“I was wondering if you could recommend a book (or books) that builds a ground-up case for the Bible as divine revelation. That is, something that addresses the unbeliever's question, ‘Why should I believe that the Bible is divinely inspired?’ Any thoughts?”This is not a simple question to answer. Someone may believe or disbelieve the Bible for a variety of reasons. There may also be a difference between the reasons we have for believing the Bible, and the reasons we’re able to give, since there is a dimension of religious experience which is inaccessible to an outsider. In addition, we often know more than we can put into words.
Unbelievers may reject the Bible out of sheer ignorance. Their knowledge of scripture is confined to hostile, thirdhand caricatures.
The Bible is less of a book than an anthology. Indeed, some books of the Bible are anthologies.
As such, it can be hard for a novice to get a feel for the overall shape of Scripture and sense of where it is going. For example, the prophetic books tend to be anthologies of individual oracles, delivered at different times and places, to differing audiences. As such, they lack linear flow. In addition, they refer to topical sociopolitical events that are obscure or unintelligible to the modern reader without some background. It’s just a jumble.
Likewise, a lot of OT law is geared to the sociological conditions of the ANE, which renders it apparently meaningless to a modern reader.
So, just for starters, a seeker needs to have a roadmap to find his way through what may otherwise seem at times to be an impenetrable thicket or trackless wilderness. Examples include G. Fee & D. Stuart, How to Read the Bible for All It’s Worth; T. Longman, Making Sense of the Old Testament; T. Schreiner, Interpreting the Pauline Letters, and V. Poythress, The Returning King.
They should also read a good study Bible, such as W. Kaiser & D. Garrett, eds. Archaeological Study Bible.
II. Bible History
Some unbelievers claim that Scripture is unhistorical. For a sampling of literature to the contrary, see: A. Allis, The Old Testament: Its Claims and Its Critics; P. Barnett, Is the New Testament Reliable? and The Birth of Christianity: The First Twenty Years; R. Bauckham, The Testimony of the Beloved Disciple; C. Blomberg, The Historical Reliability of John's Gospel; F. F. Bruce, The New Testament Documents: Are They Reliable?; D. A. Carson, & D. Moo, An Introduction of the New Testament; M. Casey, An Aramaic Approach to Q: Sources for the Gospels of Matthew & Luke, and Aramaic Sources of Mark’s Gospel; C. Evans & S. Porter, eds. Dictionary of New Testament Background; M. Hengel, The Four Gospels & the One Gospel of Jesus Christ; J. Hoffmeier, Israel in Egypt, and Ancient Israel In Sinai; J. Hoffmeier, & A. Millard, eds. The Future of Biblical Archaeology; K. Kitchen, On the Reliability of the Old Testament; A. Köstenberger, Encountering John; V. Long, et al., eds. Windows into Old Testament History; P. Maier, In the Fullness of Time; I. H. Marshall, Luke: Historian & Theologian; A. Millard, Reading & Writing in the Time of Jesus; I. Provan, et al., eds. A Biblical History of Israel; J. Robinson, Redating the New Testament, and The Priority of John, and D J Wiseman & E. Yamauchi, Archaeology and the Bible.
For a philosophical defense of Scripture, see: P. Helm, The Divine Revelation.
A number of commentaries on various books of the Bible also accentuate the historicity of the books, such as John Currid on the Pentateuch, Douglas Stuart on Exodus, R. K. Harrison on Numbers, Daniel Block (forthcoming), Peter Craigie, and J. A. Thompson on Deuteronomy, Richard Hess on Joshua, Daniel Block and K. Lawson Younger on Judges, Craig Blomberg, Craig Evans (forthcoming), and Craig Keener on Matthew, James Edwards and Craig Evans on Mark, Darrel Bock on Luke, Craig Blomberg and Craig Keener on John, as well as Darrell Block (forthcoming), F. F. Bruce, Walter Gasque (forthcoming), Craig Keener (forthcoming), Stanley Porter (forthcoming), and Ben Witherington on Acts.
III. The Historical Jesus
Some of the standard “quest” literature includes P. Barnett, Jesus and the Logic of History, and Jesus & the Rise of Early Christianity; R. Bauckham, Jesus and the Eyewitnesses; F. F. Bruce, Jesus & Christian Origins Outside the New Testament; P. Copan & R. Tacelli, eds. Jesus’ Resurrection; C. Evans, Fabricating Jesus: How Modern Scholars Distort the Gospels; G. Habermas, & M. Licona, The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus; T. Jones, Misquoting Truth: A Guide to the Fallacies of Bart Ehrman's "Misquoting Jesus"; J. Komoszewski, et al. Reinventing Jesus; L. Strobel, ed. The Case for Christ; R. Swinburne, The Resurrection of God Incarnate, N. T. Wright, The Resurrection of the Son of God, and Who Was Jesus?
IV. Bible “Contradictions”
Some unbelievers reject the Bible because it’s full of “contradictions.” This usually involves a very wooden preconception of what constitutes accurate reportage. Some helpful correctives include C. Blomberg, The Historical Reliability of the Gospels, and V. Long, The Art of Biblical History.
A useful reference work is: G. Archer, The Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties.
The argument from prophecy is a traditional argument for the inspiration of Scripture. In conventional apologetics, it has tended to focus on isolated Bible verses. A more contextual approach traces the unfolding fulfillment of certain theological motifs, such as we find in T. Alexander, The Servant King, and A. Motyer, Look to the Rock.
Sceptics often claim that the canon is a late and arbitrary collection of books, cobbled together by ecclesiastical power politics. But there are several line of evidence for the canon that undercut this Marxist-cum-conspiratorial claim, such as R. Beckwith, The Old Testament Canon of the New Testament Church; F. F. Bruce, The Canon of Scripture; E. E. Ellis, The Making of the New Testament Documents, and The Old Testament in Early Christianity; B. Metzger, The Canon of the New Testament; J. Sailhamer, Introduction to Old Testament Theology: A Canonical Approach, and D. Trobisch, The First Edition of the New Testament.
Some unbelievers reject the Bible because they agree with Hume’s critique of miracles. For a couple of fine examinations, see: Earman, J. Hume’s Abject Failure, and D. Geivett & G. Habermas, In Defense of Miracles.
VIII. Comparative Mythology
Some unbelievers reject the Bible because of comparative mythology. For some useful studies on this topic, see: J. Currid, Ancient Egypt and the Old Testament; J. Machen, The Virgin Birth of Christ, and J. Walton, Ancient Near Eastern Thought and the Old Testament.
Some unbelievers reject the Bible because it’s “unscientific.” There are many aspects to this controversy.
One should become conversant with differing schools of thought on the philosophy of science, such as L. Lauden, Progress and Its Problems; J. P. Moreland, Christianity and the Nature of Science, and Del Ratzsch, Nature, Design, and Science.
Some books document the internecine warfare within the Darwinian community, such as M. Brown, The Darwin Wars; R. Morris, The Evolutionists; M. Ruse, The Evolution Wars, and K. Sterelny, Dawkins vs. Gould.
A number of roughly religiously-oriented writers have published books critical of secular theorizing on cosmological or biological origins, such as S. Barr, Modern Physics and Ancient Faith; M. Behe, Darwin's Black Box, and The Edge of Evolution; J. Byl, God & Cosmos, and The Divine Challenge; W. Dembski, No Free Lunch; A. Menuge, Agents Under Fire; V. Poythress, Redeeming Science; J. Sanford, Genetic Entropy & the Mystery of the Genome; J. Sarfati, Refuting Evolution 2; Lee M. Spetner, Not by Chance; J. Wells, Icons of Evolution, and The Politically Incorrect Guide to Darwinism and Intelligent Design, and K. Wise, Faith, Form, and Time.
There are also a number of books by authors who are not religiously oriented, but nevertheless find fault with various aspects of evolutionary biology, such as M. Denton, M. Evolution: A Theory in Crisis, and Nature's Destiny; H. Gee, In Search of Deep Time; J. Greene, Debating Darwin; F. Hoyle, Mathematics of Evolution; M. Midgley, Evolution as a Religion; R. Milton, Shattering the Myths of Darwinism; G. Sermonti, Why Is a Fly Not a Horse? and D. Stove, D. Darwinian Fairytales.
Some unbelievers reject the Bible on ethical grounds. Some useful treatments from that viewpoint are: G. Wenham, Story as Torah, and D. Wilson, Letter from a Christian Citizen.
XI. The Paranormal
Many people disbelieve the Bible because they have no experience of anything out of the ordinary. So, for them, the world of the Bible doesn’t correspond to the world they know. But there are many case studies in the field of the paranormal, including the occult, which document the fact that the world of Scripture is not a world apart from the world outside our window, such as, G. Amorth & N. Mackenzie, An Exorcist Tells His Story, and An Exorcist: More Stories; D. Bartholomew, Uncertain Belief; D. Fontana, Is There An Afterlife: A Comprehensive Overview of the Evidence; F. Goodman, How About Demons; G. Habermas & J. P. Moreland, Beyond Death; J. Houran and R. Lange, eds., Hauntings and Poltergeists: Multidisciplinary Perspectives; K. Koch, Christian Counseling and Occultism, and Occult Bondage and Deliverance; David Lester, Is there Life After Death?; M. Martin, Hostage to the Devil: The Possession and Exorcism of Five Contemporary Americans; H. Montefiore, The Paranormal: A Bishop Investigates; J. W. Montgomery, ed. Demon Possession, and Principalities & Powers; R.W.K. Paterson, Philosophy and the Belief in a Life After Death; M. Scott Peck, Glimpses of the Devil: A Psychiatrist's Personal Accounts of Possession, Exorcism, and Redemption; J. Richards, But Deliver Us From Evil; M. Saborn, Light & Death; M. Stoeber and H. Meynell, eds., Critical Reflections on the Paranormal; L. Storm and M. Thalbourne, eds., The Survival of Human Consciousness, and M. Unger, The Haunting of Bishop Pike.