Light of the Word: How Knowing the History of the Bible Illuminates Our Faith, By Susan C. Lim

Light of the Word

How Knowing the History of the Bible Illuminates Our Faith

by Susan C. Lim

Light of the Word
  • Length: 240 pages
  • Dimensions: 5.5 × 8.5 in
  • Published: December 05, 2023
  • Imprint: IVP
  • Item Code: A0694
  • ISBN: 9781514006948

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While Christians generally acknowledge that the Bible is God's Word, many of us lack robust confidence in the reality of its trustworthiness. We may not be sure if we really believe what we read. But the more we understand how Scripture came to be, the more we discover its power and truth.

Historian Susan Lim unpacks how the history of the Bible bolsters our faith and anchors us through the changing tides of time. The story of Scripture, while messy and complicated at times, is also the story of how God shepherded his people throughout the centuries in and through these writings. Lim explains how Christians came to accept certain documents as inspired and not others, and how the books we now call the Bible came to be assembled and canonized as authoritative. The same Spirit of God who oversaw the writing of Scripture continues to be at work actively in us in our receiving and reading of it, to grow us in faith and maturity.

Those of us who confess that Jesus is Lord can also confess with confidence that Scripture is God's Word. As the church through the ages has received and passed down the sacred Scriptures, so too can we receive for ourselves the living Word that God still speaks through today.

"Being in a Bible study with Susan and her family for the last five years, I have witnessed firsthand Susan's passion for the Scriptures and the powerful and gracious work God has done in her life through the Scriptures. My confidence in Scripture has been strengthened and my heart has been refreshed by reading Light of the Word, and I believe this book will serve you well, no matter where you are in your faith journey. It is a book I will come back to again as a trusted resource."

Eric Geiger, senior pastor of Mariners Church

"Light of the Word is a wonderful introduction to the Bible. Along with addressing some of the big questions about how the Bible was put together and reasons we have to believe it is true, Susan Lim shares her personal story of leaving Buddhism and becoming a Christian. She also recounts how—years later—she came to embrace the Bible as God's Word. This is a fascinating book that will help readers better engage the Bible."

Sean McDowell, associate professor of apologetics at Biola University and coauthor of Evidence That Demands a Verdict

"As both a Christian and a pastor, I know the essentiality and importance of having confidence in the fact that our Bibles are truly the Word of God. Having spent many years teaching the Bible and calling others to trust it explicitly, I'm especially thankful for this new and thoughtful book by Susan Lim on this crucial topic of the trustworthiness of Scripture. Looking at the Bible through the historical lens, Susan substantiates over and over again that all Scripture is indeed God-breathed. This book will be high on my recommended reading list."

Brian Brodersen, pastor of Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa and author of Spiritual Warfare: Fighting the Good Fight of Faith

"An insightful, practical, and honest book, which my dear friend Susan Lim shares from her heart. She challenges us to cultivate a daily habit of reading God's Word, Genesis through Revelation, so we can grow deeper in our faith. It is refreshing to read her prayer that 'we would dance with the Lord—absorbing, meditating, responding, and living out his love by the power of the Spirit.'"

Marilyn Long, president of the Long Family Foundation

"A warmly personal story of how Susan Lim's heart and head both came to a genuine transformative faith. Through a story that is uniquely hers and yet also everyone's, you will see how historical facts strengthened her conviction in Scripture as the Word of God. Lim invites you to walk alongside, to see how faith in Jesus is enriched by faith in God's Word."

E. Randolph Richards, provost and professor of biblical studies in the School of Ministry at Palm Beach Atlantic University

"In our age, it is not unusual to hear baseless criticism of the Bible's authenticity, accuracy, and historical viability. Many Christians don't have access to resources to combat these attacks. Susan Lim gifts us with an accessible, rich, and personal account of discovering (or rediscovering!) the truth that the Bible is in fact the Word of God. Read, learn, and recommit yourself to saturating yourself in Scripture!"

Kyle Strobel, professor of spiritual theology and formation at Biola University's Talbot School of Theology

"Susan Lim's book Light of the Word is an amazing overview of all the important subjects related to the Bible. With incredibly clear explanations, the book tackles many of the challenges that skeptics may make concerning the Bible. In addition, her footnotes are extremely thorough and helpful for further study. This book is scholarly as well as deeply personal. Light of the Word gave me a greater desire to study the Bible and a newfound confidence in God's Word; it is a must-read for anyone from the young believer to the mature follower of Christ."

Benjamin C. Shin, associate professor of Christian ministry and leadership at Biola University's Talbot School of Theology

"Susan Lim's book Light of the Word is a fascinating and learned exposition of its subject. Not only does the author teach us about the history of the Bible, but she also demonstrates the diverse ways the Bible has functioned in the Christian religion across the centuries. Easy to read, her book does not confront readers with off-putting technical detail. Instead, Lim welcomes us into the company of fellow Bible readers across the centuries."

Daniel Walker Howe, Pulitzer Prize winner and Rhodes Professor of American History Emeritus at Oxford University

"As followers of Jesus, we are regularly told the Bible is God's personal communication to us. If we are honest, many of us struggle to fully accept this profound truth. Often, we have nagging doubts about whether such extraordinary stories can really be true. It's comforting to know we are not alone. I can personally attest to Susan Lim's scholarship and her deep search for an authentic faith—a faith rooted in the Scriptures. I was struck by both her candor and careful approach. At many points, I was deeply moved, challenged, and comforted. What a gift."

Tim Muehlhoff, professor of communication at Biola University and author of Eyes to See: Recognizing God's Common Grace in an Unsettled World

"I was delighted to discover that this academic, historical book read so easily. Susan Lim's inclusion of personal stories and 'Questions to Ponder' allowed me to reflect on how the Word of God is continuously active and vibrant in my own life. As I finished the book, I found myself rekindling my love for God's Word once again. Without hesitation, I am delighted to include this book in my collection of valuable resources that I will share with others."

Gloria S. Lee, director of family ministries at Pacific Crossroads Church

"I absolutely love how Light of the Word reads like a poignant memoir and drops wisdom like a well-researched history book. Not only does Dr. Susan Lim contextualize the Bible with historical gems and vulnerable truths from her own spiritual journey, but she also inspires you to (re)read Scripture with a renewed fervor."

Nancy Wang Yuen, sociologist and host of The Disrupters podcast

"Light of the Word is an engaging journey into the trustworthiness of the Bible. Susan Lim serves as a helpful companion, navigating the intricate complexities of Scripture and stimulating deep reflection through her thought-provoking questions. In an accessible way, she uncovers a treasure trove of resources that showcase the necessity, sufficiency, clarity, and authority of Scripture. Susan's winsome and captivating voice, coupled with her infectious passion for the Word, will rekindle your own enthusiasm and make it irresistible to set aside her book without feeling a renewed desire to immerse yourself in the Scriptures and hear God speak."

Alastair Sterne, pastor and author of Rhythms for Life: Spiritual Practices for Who God Made You to Be

"Susan Lim offers an impressive and inspired blend of disciplinary expertise and personal candor that invites the reader to not only consider their relationship with God but also to critically examine their relationship with his Word. Her novel concept of a second confession to receive God's Word as authoritative is both provocative and convicting. Skillfully employing robust factual inquiry, relatable human narrative, and intelligently reflective questions, Dr. Lim creates needed space for wrestling with some unresolved issues in the Scriptures, and as a result readers glean opportunities for working out our salvation to the glory of God."

Andrea Scott, provost of George Fox University

"Light of the Word is an impassioned history of the Christian Bible. . . . Lim's enthusiasm for her topic is palpable. . . and she never sacrifices close historical detail. New Christians will gain particular energy from Lim's heartfelt promise that scripture can reveal 'moments when the miraculous converges with the ordinary.'"

Publishers Weekly, October 2023

"Lim argues that Christians can trust the 66 books of the Protestant canon as God’s word by realizing that the stories recorded in it were corroborated by ancient literature and archaeology. Best for readers interested in the historical context of biblical scripture and evangelical beliefs."

Library Journal, December 2023

Read an Excerpt


Introduction: Loving God's Word

1. The Scriptures and Salvation
2. Old Testament Tradition
3. A Timeline of the Old Testament
4. A Close-Up of the Old Testament
5. Reading Esther: A Case Study
6. Disputed Books of the Old Testament
7. The Old Testament Fakes
8. Miracles
9. A Close-Up of the New Testament
10. Ins and Outs of the New Testament
11. Compiling the New Testament
12. The Church Fathers
13. Completing the Canon
14. Answering Challenges to Scripture
15. Build on Rock

Further Reading


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Susan Lim

Susan C. Lim (PhD, UCLA) is a historian and writer. She has been a professor of history at Biola University in La Mirada, California, and is a speaker at conferences, churches, and retreats. She loves to share God's Word and serve at her home church, Mariners Church in Irvine, California. She resides in Southern California with her husband, Brian, and their two children.