Book Review: A Visual History of the English Bible
By Donald L. Brake
When I picked up this book, I was interested in learning about how the Bible first was translated into the English language, but I held little expectation of finding that process interesting. But Donald Brake blew away all of my expectations and crafted a fascinating look at a history that I was unfamiliar with but that has had undeniable influence in my own life. Although I am well aware of how lucky I am to be able to read God’s Word in a language I understand, since there are so many people in our world today that do not have it translated into their own tongue yet, I had taken for granted how the Bible came to be in English in the first place. Brake gave me a new appreciation for Scripture and the struggle it took by many Godly men to bring its words to the English-speaking world.
Donald Brake is a scholar and collector of rare English-language Bibles. As such, his own personal collection provides the visual element of the title, with numerous pictures of these artifacts he describes. Brake performs an admirable job of blending narrative accounts of the lives and struggles of men like John Wycliffe and William Tyndale with the actual historical process of translation, while mixing in stories of his personal adventures in collecting that have fueled his passion for the English Bible. He paints a picture of the resistance that existed to seeing God’s Word removed from the hands of the religious elite and delivered to the common folk and the obstacles that prevented initial widespread distribution. But ultimately, Brake’s book continually points toward God’s guiding hand and providential sovereignty in ensuring His Word would reach the whole world and all people.
Every Christian should be aware of the sacrifices made to translate the Bible into English, and the ever-present need to still bring God’s Word to the masses of this world in their own heart-language. Brake has written a book that enables history to be absorbed in an engaging manner.