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What Christians Believe about the Bible

A Concise Guide for Students

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"What Christians Believe about the Bible will appeal to both the scholar and the lay reader. . . . This book is a great service to the church, and all who read and apply it will be immeasurably enriched."--Roger J. Green, Gordon College

Don Thorsen and Keith Reeves combine their biblical and theological knowledge to provide students with an informed and wide-ranging understanding of varied Christian views about the Bible's nature. This concise introduction not only explores the interpretation of the Bible but also examines the history and theological understanding behind biblical interpretation, equipping students to think critically about their own tradition's approach to Scripture. It will serve as a useful supplemental text in both introductory biblical studies and theology courses, helping to "fill in the blanks" regarding questions that arise but are not always treated in a particular discipline. 

1. We Are All Students of the Bible
2. A Brief History of the Bible
Interpretation of the Bible
3. Genre
4. Historical Context
5. Literary Context
Theology of the Bible
6. Religious Authority
7. Inspiration of the Bible
8. The Bible, Truth, and Error
9. Views of the Bible's Trustworthiness
10. What Then Should We Do?
Appendix 1: Books of the Hebrew Bible
Appendix 2: Books of the Protestant Old Testament
Appendix 3: Books of the Apocryphal/Deuterocanonical Books
Appendix 4: Books of the New Testament


"What Christians Believe about the Bible will appeal to both the scholar and the lay reader as the writers are adept in achieving a broad appeal. They well combine a thorough knowledge of their subject, lucid prose, and a genuine desire to examine issues, including the authority, inspiration, and trustworthiness of Scripture. The authors carefully define terms, use the biblical text to explain a range of issues, and faithfully reconstruct various interpretations of the Bible, always keeping the historical context of those interpretations in mind. This book is a great service to the church, and all who read and apply it will be immeasurably enriched."

Roger J. Green, professor and chair of biblical studies and Christian ministries and Terrelle B. Crum Chair of Humanities, Gordon College

"What kind of book is the Bible? Where did it come from? Is it infallible or inspired? Does it contain errors? How do we interpret the Bible to hear its message clearly? Those new to the Bible or readers familiar with it, including inquiring students, will find here practical help in answering these questions and making their own decisions about what to believe about the Bible. Readers will come away from this well-informed, theologically balanced, and easy-to-read book eager to engage Scripture and see that there is more than one way for Christians to be biblical, faithful, and effective followers of Jesus."

Graham H. Twelftree, distinguished professor of New Testament, School of Divinity, Regent University

"Remarkably readable, this book informs and provokes thinking in an engaging way. No one holds all the views surveyed in the book, but we can come to a better understanding of the range of views by this appraisal that seeks to give each view a fair hearing."

Craig Keener, professor of New Testament, Asbury Theological Seminary

"Don Thorsen and Keith Reeves believe that all Christians should--and can--be informed students of the Bible. They put that belief into action by providing an accessible but substantial guide to what the Bible is, where it came from, and how we can make it part of our lives and thoughts today. This is an informative and useful guidebook to the Christian's Guidebook."

W. David Buschart, associate dean and professor of theology and historical studies, Denver Seminary

The Authors

  1. Don Thorsen

    Don Thorsen

    Don Thorsen (PhD, Drew University) is professor of theology at Azusa Pacific University in Azusa, California. His previous books include An Exploration of Christian Theology, What Christians Believe about the Bible, and The Wesleyan...

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  2. Keith H. Reeves

    Keith H. Reeves

    Keith H. Reeves (PhD, Union Theological Seminary) is professor of New Testament and early Christian literature in the school of theology at Azusa Pacific University in Azusa, California. He is the author of The Resurrection Narrative in Matthew: A Literary...

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"[This volume] stimulates thought on fundamental hermeneutical issues. Ultimately, the authors remain true to their title, for they do indeed provide a concise guide to get students thinking about the fact that very faithful Christians have a variety of beliefs about and effective ways to interpret the sacred text we call the Bible."

Peter J. Judge,

Review of Biblical Literature

"A helpful summary of what Christians of many different theological perspectives believe about the Bible. . . . The authors reflect a strength of the book in their statement, 'Our approach is both common sense oriented when it comes to biblical interpretation and fair-minded in presenting various theological interpretations of the Bible.' They fulfill their goal admirably by providing a lot of background information on various perspectives and leaving room for readers to discern for themselves what their conclusions will be."

Donald Griggs,


"The book introduces basic issues related to Biblical interpretation and theology of the Bible, and is suitable for students at the beginning stages of undergraduate study, or for community members starting to investigate the Bible in depth. . . . This book is concise and readable, and raises important issues in an accessible, engaging way. . . . The interpretive and theological questions raised are insightful . . . and will be helpful to students beginning academic study of the Bible."

Julia Snyder,

Expository Times

"While recognizing the Bible as sacred Scripture, [the authors] want to interpret biblical texts as historical texts. . . . They work hard explaining the challenges of study and 'differences of opinion' among Christians. . . . Their book is readable, persuasive, and balanced across its chapters. They helpful conclude that, as devotional studies aid Christian maturity/spirituality, so can critical biblical and theological studies of the Bible. Recommended."

Robert S. Dutch,

Journal for the Study of the New Testament

"[The authors'] concern in the book is not so much to settle the matter once and for all on inspiration and authority, but rather to think through the broader philosophical and hermeneutical questions for those committed to Christian belief. . . . This is a timely book, well-written and I appreciate the authors are not driven by dogmatic 'my-way-or-the-highway' motives. The chapters on the theology of the Bible, in my opinion, are the most helpful and illuminating."

Nijay K. Gupta,

Crux Sola blog