A History of the Bible: The Book and Its Faiths

September 20, 2019 - Comment

THE SUNDAY TIMES BESTELLER ‘With emotional and psychological insight, Barton unlocks this sleeping giant of our culture. In the process, he has produced a masterpiece.’ Sunday Times The Bible is the central book of Western culture. For the two faiths which hold it sacred, it is the bedrock of their religion, a singular authority on

THE SUNDAY TIMES BESTELLER ‘With emotional and psychological insight, Barton unlocks this sleeping giant of our culture. In the process, he has produced a masterpiece.’ Sunday Times The Bible is the central book of Western culture. For the two faiths which hold it sacred, it is the bedrock of their religion, a singular authority on what to believe and how to live. For non-believers too, it has a commanding status: it is one of the great works of world literature, woven to an unparalleled degree into our language and thought. This book tells the story of the Bible, explaining how it came to be constructed and how it has been understood, from its remote beginnings down to the present. John Barton describes how the narratives, laws, proverbs, prophecies, poems and letters which comprise the Bible were written and when, what we know – and what we cannot know – about their authors and what they might have meant, as well as how these extraordinarily disparate writings relate to each other. His incisive readings shed new light on even the most familiar passages, exposing not only the sources and traditions behind them, but also the busy hands of the scribes and editors who assembled and reshaped them. Untangling the process by which some texts which were regarded as holy, became canonical and were included, and others didn’t, Barton demonstrates that the Bible is not the fixed text it is often perceived to be, but the result of a long and intriguing evolution. Tracing its dissemination, translation and interpretation in Judaism and Christianity from Antiquity to the rise of modern biblical scholarship, Barton elucidates how meaning has both been drawn from the Bible and imposed upon it. Part of the book’s originality is to illuminate the gap between religion and scripture, the ways in which neither maps exactly onto the other, and how religious thinkers from Augustine to Luther and Spinoza have reckoned with this. Barton shows that if we are to regard the Bible as ‘au

Comments

Anonymous says:

The long overdue, perfect companion for any student of the Bible. John Barton is one of the world’s leading Biblical scholars. He is a former Oriel and Laing Professor of the Interpretation of Holy Scripture at Oxford University, who then became an Emeritus Fellow of Oriel College, and presently is a Senior Research Fellow of Campion Hall, Oxford, which is a Catholic Jesuit Private Academic Research Institution.In his extensive, wide-ranging and immensely thorough, 600 page book, Barton takes us through the many stages of the Bible’s composition…

Anonymous says:

STILL don’ t buy this. Deeply disappointing. My original one star review seems to have been wiped out, presumably at the request of Barton’s publishers or even him himself.What it said was that in spite of the fulsome reviews (which, alas, persuaded me to buy it without having browzed through it) alleging that it is a “brilliant work of scholarship” and “essential reading” etc. it isn’t: it adds nothing to what a reasonably well educated schoolchild would have known by the age of sixteen twenty five years ago.Despite footnote…

Anonymous says:

A truly fascinating read. My only knowledge of the bible comes from Sunday school as a kid, and what I learned at school about all the drama that has come with various religions and branches thereof having different views of what it is and what it means. So this book has been an absolute revelation. The author is very obviously the expert’s expert, and it definitely shows. The book is of academic quality and comes with capacious notes and a large reference section. It is, however, not difficult to read or full of…

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