Monday, July 24, 2017

Review: Miller, Stephen M (2007) La Guía Completa de la Biblia

Miller, Stephen M (2007) La Guía Completa de la Biblia: Una Referencia Ilustrada Y Fácil de Seguir que Abarca Tanto el Antiguo como el Nuevo Testamento. Casa Promesa, Uhrichsville, Ohio. Member of the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association.

Review by Joseph Abrahamson

I wondered into our local Christian bookstore, not by accident but out of a sense of duty. Walmart has the typical non-christian selection of best-selling motivational heretics. But the Christian
bookstore is a place for the truly devoted to shop. They did, of course, have on hand the titles and authors promoted at Walmart. But the Christian bookstore is there for those who want to “go deeper” in spite of Perry Noble’s admonition.

So, for those who want to “go deeper” what kind of overview helps are there? Well, this is just one of several available. The town has a large Spanish speaking population, so I was curious what the bookstore selected from the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association as an aid to gaining a deeper understanding of Scripture.

The book is attractively laid out, magazine style with short articles designed for quick reading. The articles cover the books of the Bible according to the canonical list of the Reformed churches. There is a page introducing each Testament. Each individual biblical book has a short overview. And there are side captions highlighting the central point, the authorship, the date of the book, and geographical location of the book. Miller dedicates short articles to the main themes of each book and includes extra-biblical historical and archaeological notes. Some of these historical asides are purely conjectural and not really helpful.

For example, he includes a box titled “¿La peste bubónica salvó a Jerusalén?” on p. 116 where he runs against the historical and biblical understanding of the identity of the Angel of the Lord as the pre-incarnate Son of God. Instead he highlights the hypothesis that 1 Kings 19:35 might indicate that the Angel of the Lord could have been:

“Ratas”, sugieren algunos expertos en la Biblia. Según ellos, “el ángel del Señor” es un metáfora; una forma de decir que Dios estaba detrás del ataque que salvó a Jerusalén. (p. 116)

Miller notes that scholarship bases this notion on a reference in Herotodus that refers to Sennacherib being overrun one night by a plague of rats. And since rats carry the plague, this must be what the Bible means.

In this Miller demonstrates no small historical inconsistency. He quickly accepts the imputation of an interpretation made 2400 years after Herotodus onto a text from at least two centuries before Herotodus. And at the same time he refuses to accept the Biblical accounts about Moses because they were hypothesized to have been written centuries after Moses by scholars who live 3500 years after Moses.

He also includes some short notes about particular historically significant interpreters of the Bible at relevant points. For instance, Paul’s First Letter to Timothy contains both a prohibition of women holding preaching office in the church, and it is here that the Apostle lists one of the qualifications of a Pastor or Bishop as male. But here is where Miller chooses to insert a short biography of Angelina and Sarah Grimké, advocates of women preachers in the church. (p. 442)

Miller wrote in non-technical language and avoided Christian jargon: “El problema es que es un idioma extranjero para las personas que espero que lean este libro.” But what are these people who are new to the Bible really reading in the Bible after Miller’s misdirection?

Miller repeatedly prefers to deny Scripture’s history in favor of modernism. He spiritualizes the history of Scripture into a moralistic statement about God enabling mankind to live well in obedience to His will.

The main translation of the Bible used is la Santa Biblia, Nueva Traducción Viviente. This translation is particularly problematic in twisting God’s work into the works of man. For instance, Matthew 6:33
Busquen el reino de Dios por encima de todo lo demás
y lleven una vida justa, y él les dará todo lo que necesiten.

Compare Reina-Valera 1960, a translation that is faithful to the original Greek:
Mas buscad primeramente el reino de Dios
y su justicia, y todas estas cosas os serán añadidas

Many more examples could be given of the faithlessness of the Nueva Traducción Viviente. Two other fall back translations used are las Sociedades Bíblical Unidas Traducción en Lenguaje Actual, and Dios habla hoy.

Miller adopts an equivocating position that favors a mix of evolution with Gap Theory of Thomas Chalmers and the Day-Age theory of Arnold Guyot.

“El Génesis no responde preguntas relacionadas con la forma exacta en que se creó el universo. En cambio, responde la pregunta de quién lo creó.(p. 10)

“Dios crea el universo físico, desde las estrellas mś remotas hasta la luz estelar que se refleja en nuestros ojos. En el relato sobre la Creaciń, el trabajo de Dios se extiende durante siete días.”(p. 12)

Miller promotes a position waffling between the Copenhagen minimalist school approach and the Historical Critics who put the authorship of the books of Moses into the United Kingdom..

“Muchos expertos en la Biblia afirman que el Génesis es una colección de historias transmitidas en forma oral de generación en generación. Según ellos, los eruditos judíos recopilaron estas historias en un libro cientos de años después de la vida de Moisés, en la época en que los gobernantes de Israel eran reyes.”(p. 11)

Miller makes similar statements about the authorship of Exodus (p. 28), Leviticus (p. 43), etc., for example:

“ No obstante, muchos eruditos sostienen que estas podrían haberse transmitido oralmente de generación en generación mucho antes de que alguien las escribiera.” (p. 43)

MIller uses Galileo as an example of why Christians need to accept the words of scholars over that of the Bible. (p. 12)

Miller denies that the Noahic flood covered the whole world. (p. 15)
“No importa si el diluvio de Noé cubrió toda la Tierra; las historias del diluvio sí la cubren. Estas historias forman parte de la trama de unas setenta culturas, desde las de Oriente Medio hasta las de los aborígenes americanos, los chinos y los isleños del Pacífico Sur.” (p. 15)

Miller’s summary of the Lord’s Supper in Gospel of Matthew is recklessly simplified and limited to crass symbolism for Protestants or transmutation for the Catholic Church and Orthodox. (p. 314) He does not cover the institution of Baptism in Matthew 28. He includes a rather helpful two page spread “Guía Médica Sobre la Crucifixión De Jesús: Con ilustraciones de Mayo Clinic” on pages 344-5.

Summary

While this volume has many helpful short articles, the author repeatedly denies the historicity of Scripture in many places, here and there plainly calling the text a myth--by which he means it is not true, but it contains some kind of spiritual truth. At times he reduces the Scriptural teaching about salvation to a formula of God making a way for us to follow in obedience. I.E., God did his part, now you do yours. So although Miller presents his information in a somewhat useful and attractive way his persistent injection of anti-Scriptural teachings and his appeals to the authority of modern rationalist scholarship mean that this book will direct the intended reader away from knowing what the Bible actually says and trusting God's Word. However, a pastor may find this useful as a snapshot of what modern Evangelicalism teaches as acceptable, and ways in which modern Evangelicalism capitulates to the culture around it. Millerś book may help inform a pastor about what kinds of catechesis he may need to offer those coming from a modern Evangelical background.

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