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Tuesday, May 23, 2017

"The People's Book" ed. Jennifer Powell McNutt and David Lauber. A Review


The People’s Book: The Reformation and the Bible
Ed. Jennifer Powell McNutt and David Lauber
IVP Academic
ISBN: 978-0-8308-5163-8; April 2017; $25.00

The 500th Anniversary of the Protestant Reformation is upon us, and one of the rousing slogans attributed to the early Reformers was “Scripture alone”. It is very fitting, then, that “The People’s Book: The Reformation and the Bible” has recently rolled off the presses. This 250 page paperback is the compilation of work presented at the Wheaton Theology Conference in 2016, and is edited by Jennifer Powell McNutt, associate professor of theology and history of Christianity at Wheaton College, and David Lauber, associate professor of theology at Wheaton. This readable volume “examines many of the facets of the Bible as the people’s book during the Reformation by reflecting on matters pertaining to access, readership, media, culture, diffusion, and authority as well as its place in the worship context, as the arbiter of theological interpretation, and as a contributor to unity and division within Christianity” (5). That summary gives a solid synopsis of what flows through these pages.

The various contributors come from a wide swath of Christian scholars and academics, and bring intriguing evaluations to the Reformation’s sola scriptura. There are historical lodes and stimulating deposits running throughout the work. Whether it’s Bruce Gordon explaining how Protestants created and produced Latin Bibles, Read Mercer Schuchardt laying out the case for the printing press being the formal cause behind the success of the Reformation and the rise of individualism, John D. Witvliet scoring the interplay between the Reformation’s Bible-rich catechesis and liturgy, or D. Dansil Morgan and Christopher Castaldo mapping out the ways sola scriptura cropped up into Welsh and Italian cultures at the time of the Reformation, to name a few of the subjects, the reader will not be disappointed!

“The People’s Book” assumes the reader has a working knowledge of later Medieval, Reformation, and Post-Reformation history, and fills in many of the cracks and crevices with some unique grout. Even if you don’t agree with all of the analyses and assessments, nevertheless you will gain new views and grow in fresh valuations. The volume would be a wonderful study for a book reading group, an Adult Christian Education class, a college history course, and simply for personal enhancement. I highly recommend the book.

Thanks to IVP Academic for providing, upon my request, the free copy of the book used for this review. The assessments are mine given without restrictions or requirements (as per Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255).

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