Randall Price's main objective, as far as I can tell, is in answering the question if the Bible is the Word of God through the increase in confidence in the reliability of the Bible and of the documents it is based on
The book is divided into 4 Parts and each part into several chapters: (1) Searching for Evidence of the Original Bible, (2) Searching for the Reliability of the Original Bible, (3) Searching for the Truth about the Original Bible, and (4) Searching for the Restoration of the Original Bible. What will follow will be a brief summary of the "Parts" and not of each individual chapter.
Summary Part 1:
In Part 1, Searching for Evidence of the Original Bible, Dr. Price introduces western society's general take on the Bible and its diminishing role in influencing the public at large, as well as giving the reason for his writing this book, namely, to give an answer to the skeptics and critics alike. He then proceeds to define what he means by "Original Bible", which he says "although neither the Hebrew nor the Greek original manuscripts ever existed in a form resembling our present Bible, and in some cases they were edited by others before assuming the form known today, their collective existence as original manuscripts constitutes the autographa, or the `Original Bible.'" (p. 34)
Concerning the original documents Prices states "while some of the originals have been lost, their loss might not be permanent because they may have been purposefully stored in order to preserve them for future use" and cites Isaiah 30:8 as a possible reason for the "storage" of the documents. (p. 47) Another alternative he offers, which is probably more likely, is that they simply deteriorated through usage. Yet another possibility may be that they were destroyed by enemies of the Jews during the time of the conquests. These three possibilities are certainly possibilities but they need not matter since we have plenty of witnesses and manuscripts to help us get to the "Original Bible."
Primary sources for the Hebrew Testament include (p. 56):
1. Silver amulet
2. Nash Papyrus
3. Dead Sea Scrolls (202 manuscripts)
4. Habakkuk Commentary
5. Tefillin and mezuzoth from Judean Desert
6. Severus Scroll
7. About 3000 Masoretic texts (M)
Secondary sources for the Hebrew Testament (p. 56):
1. Samaritan Pentateuch
2. Greek versions of Hebrew Bible (which include 8 different versions)
3. Aramaic Targums
4. Syriac Versions (includes 3 different versions)
5. Latin Versions (includes 2 different versions)
6. Ethiopic Version
7. Coptic Versions (includes 3 different versions)
8. Arabic Versions
Throughout the rest of Part 1 Price briefly surveys the above sources and gives interesting bits of information about them.
Summary Part 2:
Price firstly covers the reliability of the Hebrew Testament by appealing to authorship, that is, if Moses penned the Pentateuch then we have good reasons to believe the Pentateuch is reliable. Price then appeals to the internal evidence of the Hebrew Testament to demonstrate that throughout the development of the Hebrew Canon, it had always been believed Moses penned the Pentateuch and thus is not a work of scribal redaction and so forth.
He then covers the issue of whether the Masoretic text is reliable since it is late in comparison to its composition (M dates from 1000 C. E.). Price states that "based on comparison with the various versions and the transmission history of the text, there is no warrant for assuming the final form of the Masoretic Text is substantially different from earlier forms." (p. 104) It is interesting that Price says that it is not "substantially different" than "earlier forms." This at least implies that it may be "different" in its particulars, that is, of specifics.
Dr. Price, after covering the Hebrew text's reliability, goes on to discuss the Greek text's reliability. The main argument is the opposite of the one he uses for the Hebrew text since he now appeals to the early manuscript copies as evidence for the Greek text's reliability.
Part 3 Summary:
This part of the book is essentially a defense of the canon, that is, he argues against the apocryphal books as canonical. On pages 134- 135, he has a nice list of all the Pseudepigrapha and of the Apocrypha of the Old Testament so that one can just glare and see the types of books there are, which he divides into (1) historical, (2) wisdom, (3) religious, and (4) apocalyptic.
Price also addresses the issue of the "gospels" that were lost and that supposedly tell the truth about Jesus. He also discusses Gnosticism and the need to address it.
Part 4 Summary:
This part deals with the restoration of the text, that is, based on all the source material, how do we know which words belong in which verse and the like. He discusses the basic scribal errors and gives 13 of the most common errors or habits of the scribes (see pages 217-219).
As he introduces textual criticism, he gives the basic criterion for the external evidence of a manuscripts worth. First starting with the Hebrew Text:
1. Language of the witnesses
2. Date of the witnesses
3. Reliability of the manuscript
4. Provenance and purpose of the text
5. Interdependence of witnesses.
He then evaluates the worth of the Greek text's manuscript worth:
1. Date and character
2. Genealogical solidarity
3. Geographical distribution
If we understand this book to be an introduction/survey of textual criticism for the layperson, then we have rightfully identified its purpose. The book most definitely serves its purpose, especially for the price. The notes at the end of the books are good, even scholarly, as could be used as a bibliography for future study. To sum up, the book is worth getting if you are just beginning to or are interested in textual criticism.