The very essence of the age we call modern represents a challenge to authority. Ultimately, the greatest authority an anti-authoritarian age must topple is the authority of the Bible as the Word of God. In Ancient Word, Changing Worlds: The Doctrine of Scripture in a Modern Age, authors Stephen J. Nichols and Eric T. Brandt offer an unprecedented combination of analysis and collected primary readings.
Nichols and Brandt have done the church a great service with this book. I especially appreciate the combination of source readings and evaluation found in the book. It is accessible to students at any college or seminary level, and will help interested laypersons to understand what is really at stake in terms of modern challenges to biblical authority. Finally, I appreciate the fact that Nichols and Brandt draw conclusions, rather than to simply trace patterns and make vague suggestions. They, too, understand what is at stake. Their coverage, we should note, continues into the postmodern era. The readings are chosen very carefully and make for fascinating reading, even when the texts have been read before. This is a truly important book. Ancient Word, Changing Worlds should find its way to every pastor, seminarian, and educated layperson’s book list.
Whichever approach, higher criticism starts with the presupposition that the Bible or even particular books of the Bible are composites, made up of various strands. From the perspective of higher criticism, authors of biblical books function more like editors who cleverly and creatively weave the strands, coming from a variety of sources, together. Advocates of higher criticism see their task as teasing the strands apart.