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Book Review: The Scofield Bible – Its History and Impact on the Evangelical Church

I would not classify myself as a dispensationalist. For the most part, I don’t know where I stand. I sometimes find myself leaning toward dispensationalism on some issues but then I turn around and can lean toward covenantal theology on others. When it comes to end times, I don’t line up with dispensationalism so I wanted to read a book on dispensational theology and its history. I have a few books here and there in my library on dispensationalism but not much in terms of the history of the movement.

And then I happen to find this book on the Scofield Bible. Occasionally I visit a fundamentalist Baptist church in our area where the Scofield Bible is practically worshiped. In fact, the pastor of the church will sometimes cite the page number he is turning to before citing the biblical reference. The members of the church almost all use the Scofield Bible. The church also has a small Bible college and I have visited the school a few times for chapel services and almost all the Bible college students use the Scofield Bible. Most of them prefer the 1917 notes above the 1967 notes since the 1967 notes corrects the King James Version translation here and there and this is simply unacceptable in KJV-only circles.

This book, written by R. Todd Mangum (UK) and Mark Sweetnam (US) offers a history of the Scofield Bible. The book opens by tracing the story of the man behind the study Bible itself, C.I. Scofield. Scofield has been criticized by his critics and adored by his admirers when the reality is that he probably was somewhere in between. Without a doubt, before his conversion, Scofield was a shady man. The word to describe Scofield would be simply a liar. He lived off lies. Scofield’s critics feel that his lying didn’t end with his conversion though I tend to doubt this. Some point out that there is no evidence that Scofield ever received an honorary doctorate though his study Bible has “Rev. C.I. Scofield D.D.” in it. This is true (that there is no evidence that he ever received a Doctorate of Divinity) but it is possible that he was awarded this and there are no records to date for this. Either way, the history of Scofield is a book unto itself.

Following the history of C.I. Scofield, the authors next turn to the development of Scofield’s theology which is not original with Scofield. Much of the dispensationalism that Scofield put in his study Bible can be traced to John Nelson Darby and the Plymouth Brethren. Scofield, following his conversion, was discipled by a strong follower of Darby and naturally Scofield adopted Darby’s viewpoints while modifying them here and there in his study Bible.

The remainder of the book offers an analysis of the impact of Scofield’s Bible. The study Bible remains the top selling study Bible of all time. It’s influence was felt not just upon the average reader but at schools such as Moody Bible Institute and Dallas Theological Seminary. The Scofield Study Bible remains the top selling Bible among dispensationalist and it remains the study Bible that critics turn to the most when seeking to debate dispensational theology. The modern fundamentalist movement and even the Pentecostal movement all derive much of their theology from their early leaders using the Scofield Study Bible.

Overall, this book was an interesting read on the history and impact of the Scofield Study Bible. I own a copy of the Scofield though I have never used it on a regular basis. I own it more for the notes on the dispensations than anything else. My Arminianism tends to conflict with Scofield’s theology (he was a Calvinist though he tended to avoid this in his notes with the exception of eternal security). Many of the modern study Bibles owe their success to Scofield and almost all of them use Scofield’s method of placing the notes at the bottom of the page. Scofield’s Bible tends to have far less notes than many study Bibles today but bear in mind that Scofield wrote almost all his notes whereas this is not true of today’s study Bibles.

I do recommend this book for its insights into the life of C.I. Scofield as well as into his study Bible that continues to make an impact 101 years after its first printing.

Written by The Seeking Disciple

02/04/2010 at 3:33 PM

5 Responses

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  1. Thank you for the summary and review. I appreciate you sharing!


    02/05/2010 at 4:29 AM

  2. I’ve been unable to find anything from Scofield that would link him with five point Calvinism, he was an Amyraldian, do you have any quote that would suggest Scofield believed in limited atonement?

    Thank you.



    03/05/2010 at 4:03 PM

  3. (Saw this web item not long ago!) A PRETRIB RAPTURE FIRST ! Joe Ortiz's "End Times Passover" blog (Mar. 9, '10) is now displaying (for the first time anywhere) a facsimile copy of the "kernel" of Margaret Macdonald's 1830 handwritten pretrib rapture account! The same history-changing account was found in the British Library and is catalogued there as "Margaret McDonald's Vision." Historian Dave MacPherson, who has researched throughout Scotland and England, tracked it down and obtained a copy of the entire 1830 handwritten document which can now be viewed 180 years later.


    03/10/2010 at 2:59 AM

  4. I retract the above statement I made on Mar. 5th.


    07/01/2010 at 4:28 AM

  5. […] Book Review: The Scofield Bible – Its History and Impact on the Evangelical Church February 2010 4 comments 3 […]

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