Book Review: From God to Us by Norman Geisler & William Nix

Every religion has a “sacred text” that is the basis of its authority. Islam has the Qur’an, Hinduism has the Vedas, and Mormons have The Book of Mormon. Christianity is no exception, having the Bible. It is the book Christians believe to be the “Word of God,” communicating who God is, humanity’s separation from Him, and God’s salvation plan through His Son Jesus Christ.

There is no denying the Bible is unique.

“It is one of the oldest books in the world, and yet it is still the world’s bestseller. It is a product of the ancient Eastern world, but it has molded the modern Western world. Tyrants have burned the Bible, and believers revere it. It is the most quoted, the most published, the most translated, and the most influential book in the history of humankind.”[1]

Yet for all its literary success and notoriety the Bible is a book under constant scrutiny. Its reliability, authenticity and authority is continuously questioned and flat-out denied. This is a serious issue. The ramifications don’t just impact Christians. They impact every religion and every individual on the planet because the Bible claims to be a book for the whole world. If the Bible is false then the Christian faith is foolish and Christians are to be pitied. But if it’s true, the world needs to hear and respond to its message.

It is this issue that makes From God to Us: How We Got our Bible, by Norman Geisler and William Nix, such an invaluable read. Academic in nature and textbook in feel, Geisler and Nix take an in-depth look at the history of the Bible. They point out the clues that indicate this book has the authority Christians, and the Bible itself, claim. The book is helpfully divided into four parts that logically build on each other and demonstrate that the Bible is “from God to us.”

Part 1: Inspiration

What is the character of the Bible? What does “inspiration” mean? Is there evidence that the Bible is inspired? These are just a few of the questions part 1 seeks to answer. By looking at internal and external evidence, Geisler and Nix succinctly show that there is reliable evidence that the Bible’s claims to be inspired by God are true.

Part 2: Canonization

The canonization of the 66 books of the Bible is often brought up with deep skepticism. Who decided which books were in and which were out? Were they trustworthy? What was required for a book to be considered inspired? After it was written, how long did it take for people to believe it was scripture? Geisler and Nix look at history, archaeology, ancient and church history, as well as claims recorded within the Bible by Jesus and others, to affirm that the Bible is complete. Objective evidence and subjective testimony point to this collection of books being the inspired Word of God.

Part 3: Transmission

“Since the Bible has undergone nearly two thousand years of transmission, it is reasonable to ask if the twentieth-century English Bible is an accurate reproduction of the Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek texts. In short, how much has the Bible suffered in the process of transmission?”[2]

Part 3 looks at the history of written language, materials used for writing, and the evidence of the various manuscripts that support the faithful transmission of the biblical text from ancient to modern times. For example, there is more accurate and reliable manuscript evidence for the New Testament than any other book of ancient literature. In this section the authors also look at textual criticism, which deals with textual variants in biblical manuscripts. How can we trust the Bible with so many variants? Through textual criticism, Geisler and Nix address the variants and come to the following conclusion:

 “Not only is the Bible the most well-preserved book to survive from the ancient world, it’s variant readings of significance amount to less than one-half of one percent, none of which affect any basic Christian doctrine.”[3]

Part 4: Translation

Why are there so many different English translations of the Bible, and which manuscripts do they use? What is the difference between a form-driven, meaning-driven, and paraphrase version of the Bible? Why does it matter?  These are a few of the questions Geisler and Nix deal with as they recount the history of Bible translation from the early Church to today’s modern Church.  The value of part 4 is its recognition that

“Many English Bible translations are market-driven and reflect cultural and theological influence… Some translations present or introduce dangerous aberrant teaching, doctrinal distortion, or theological heresies that may be, and indeed have been, introduced into the translation itself.”[4]

With a greater understanding of how certain translations came about and which manuscripts were used, one is able to better discern which Bible translations best represent the message of the Bible as it was originally given.

The Bible is unique. It is highly valued by some and ridiculed by others. Its message stands alone among sacred texts. It leaves no room for apathy, but calls each of us to either accept or reject the words that claim divine inspiration. Should we believe? Is the Bible trustworthy? Does it have the authority to back up its claims? Whether you believe, question, or reject it as the Word of God, it is worth looking into its reliability, authenticity, and authority. From God to Us is a valuable resource to help you dive into this issue that contains life-changing ramifications.


[1] Norman L. Geisler & William E. Nix. From God to Us: How We Got our Bible (Chicago: Moody Publishers, 2012), 11.

[2] Ibid, 163.

[3] Ibid, 254.

[4] Ibid, 385.

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DISCLAIMER: Blog entries made by individual authors reflect the views of the author and not necessarily the view of other CAA authors, or the official position of the group at large.
About Sarah Abbey

Sarah studied Biblical Studies at Cairn University, apologetics at the Oxford Centre for Christian Apologetics in Oxford, England, and is pursuing an MA in Bioethics from Trinity International University. Her desire is to connect apologetics with everyday life and the joy of knowing God. Sarah's hobbies include reading, cheering loudly while watching college sports, laughing with friends, and playing whatever imaginative game her young niece comes up with. You can read more of Sarah's writings at www.pennyofathought.wordpress.com and follow her on Twitter @pennyofathought