J. I. Packer's classic, Knowing God, turned forty this year, revealing to more than a million readers the wonder, glory and joy of knowing God.
"Forty years after its publication in 1973, Knowing God continues to bless readers around the world," wrote John G. Stackhouse Jr. in a recent Christianity Today article. "It continues to inspire authors, too, as it does what very few books have been able to do: present page after page of carefully nuanced Christian doctrine in a style that people actually enjoy reading."
Stemming from Packer's profound theological knowledge, Knowing God brings together two important facets of the Christian faith—knowing about God and knowing God through the context of a close relationship with the person of Jesus Christ. Packer wrote, "Once you become aware that the main business that you are here for is to know God, most of life's problems fall into place of their own accord."
Jim Sire, InterVarsity Press's first full-time editor, said he solicited the book in May 1972 from Edward England at London-based Hodder & Stoughton, the original publisher of Knowing God. "I had just spent ten days in Switzerland with Os Guinness, polishing the manuscript for his first book, The Dust of Death. It took only fifteen minutes in Edward England's office to acquire the rights for Jim Packer's Knowing God," Sire recalled. "When I showed the proof copy of Knowing God to IVP director Jim Nyquist, he looked at it briefly, then looked at me and said, 'Jim, those fifteen minutes at Hodder & Stoughton are worth more to IVP than your ten days in Switzerland.' Os's book sold very well and is still in print with Cornerstone. But Jim Nyquist was right. More than a million readers of Knowing God over the past forty years have proven that. I doubt that Jim Packer, always quiet about the book's success, ever knew about Jim Nyquist's prediction, and I doubt that he is fully aware of what his book has meant to so many, many others."
In 2006 Christianity Today voted Knowing God one of the top fifty books that have shaped evangelicals. In July 2000 it won the Platinum Book Award from the Evangelical Christian Publishing Association in recognition of more than one million copies sold in North America alone. Today more than 1.5 million copies have been sold worldwide. Knowing God has also been translated into more than a dozen languages.
In the twentieth anniversary edition of Knowing God, Packer wrote: "When I sent the manuscript of Knowing God to the publisher just over twenty years ago, I thought of it as a study book that could hardly be of general interest. I was wrong. It has become a nurture book for the Christian world. Other nurture books, including some of my own, have fallen by the wayside, but this one keeps going, and a steady flow of letters shows me it keeps on helping people. I am amazed, awed, humbled and constantly moved to thank God."
Andy Le Peau, associate publisher for editorial at InterVarsity Press, said, "When I first read the book forty years ago, I immediately felt myself drawn into the wonder and majesty of God's presence. More than a million in the church have been nurtured in their Christian lives in just the same way."
Jeff Crosby, InterVarsity Press associate publisher and director of sales and marketing, said, "Knowing God has stood the test of time—and will for generations to come."