William Mounce released his new book titled, Why I Trust the Bible, on Sept. 14, 2021. The book features his apologetic take on the Christian Bible and Christianity in general.
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To many people, Bill Mounce’s name evokes one topic: Biblical Greek. When I started my Master’s in Biblical Studies, my school used the third edition of his Basics of Biblical Greek Grammar. His style of teaching is practical and warm. When you watch his video lessons, you get a sense that this man truly loves the Bible and especially New Testament Greek.
If you stick with the material, you can probably learn the material at home without any other resources – Mounce makes the subject that approachable. If you are interested in studying the Greek texts, they you will want to get the accompanying Workbook and Vocabulary Cards. I used the vocabulary cards when I was learning the words, but I also made flash cards to help me retain the words as well. You can try any number of ways to learn, but any repetition will help you succeed in the long run.
Why Bill Trusts the Bible
And now Mounce has released his first apologetic work, Why I Trust the Bible, defending why he believes in the Bible and the claims of Christianity.
Why I Trust the Bible covers issues such as the historical Jesus, contradictions in the Bible, the development and adoption of the Biblical canon, textual criticism, translations, the character of God in the Old Testament and the historicity of the Old Testament.
If you are looking for insights into questions of the New Testament text, Mounce is the right guy to answer them. He has been teaching and translating Greek for decades and knows the material like the back of his hand.
If you are looking for a resource that dives deeply into apologetic issues, this may not be the book for you. For example, some of the arguments for the historicity of Jesus have been better argued elsewhere, both for and against. (I refer the reader to Bart Ehrman’s Did Jesus Exist? (for) and Richard Carrier’s On the Historicity of Jesus (against) for deeper discussion).
However, Mounce, being part of the translation committee for the New International Version of the Bible for the last decade, has some keen insights for biblical passages and the reliability of the New Testament text as a whole. He accurately handles the statistics on errors in biblical manuscripts and presents more functional and honest information than Bart Ehrman does regarding those errors. I personally feel that Mounce, along with other New Testament scholars, has satisfactorily defended the question of textual transmission regarding the books of the New Testament. Mounce even goes into details as to why certain texts, like the ending of Mark and the woman caught in adultery, are not considered part of the autographs (the original texts).
While I appreciate the years of experience and research that Mounce has put into Why I Trust the Bible, I don’t see the material reaching atheists and skeptics. The book will shore up the faith of some doubting Christians and maybe influence those of theistic beliefs, but I think that is the audience Mounce was aiming for anyways. For instance, in the introduction, he discusses his conversation with a Muslim man and how it pushed him forward in the creation of this work. And at the end of the book, he recalls wishing he had challenged and shored up the faith of his students.
Mounce’s honest answers about the limits of our knowledge are deeply appreciated. Hearing his insights on Old Testament interpretation, one can come away with a better defined line between “this happened” and “here’s the important message” of each story. It certainly left me thinking about some of the matter.
Bill Mounce is a respectable Greek scholar and I feel like anyone can learn something from him, even if they are not a theist or Christian. But come at this new work with the mentality that this is more of a primer for Christian apologetics with the heavy lifting done in the transmission of the Biblical text.
From Mounce to My Current Studies
Probably the greatest benefit that I’ve received by reading this book is that I have a better perspective of my challenge to reapproach Christianity. Saying that it is reasonable or not requires a number of acquiesces on my part. There is simply no escaping the gap from facts to belief. Even with science, I believe it because of its handling of facts. But I will have to admit and accept the limitations of any manner of belief: empirical, rational, etc.