A History of the Bible: The Story of the World’s Most Influential Book

John Barton. Viking, $35 (448p) ISBN 978-0-525-42877-0
Barton (The Bible: The Basics), editor-in-chief of the Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Religion, provides a clear, comprehensive look at “the story of the Bible from its remote beginnings in folklore and myth to its reception and interpretation in the present day.” Barton writes with a jargon-free style, surveying in simple language what is known and not known about when the Hebrew Bible was written. He adopts a non-fundamentalist position that concludes that the account of the origins of the Israelites “was, at best, folk-memory,” given that they were recorded centuries after the events they describe. He offers a similar scholarly look at the dating of the writing of the Gospels and at how those texts have been interpreted over the centuries. That analysis supports his contention that no versions of either Judaism or Christianity “correspond point by point to the contents of the Bible,” despite fundamentalists’ claims to the contrary. Barton notes, for example, that observant Judaism’s dietary restrictions and Christianity’s doctrine of the Trinity go far beyond what the texts of the Bible state. He concludes that freedom of interpretation and commitment to religious faith are complementary, rather than antithetical. Barton’s rigorous, accessible history will appeal to academics and general readers alike. (June)
Reviewed on : 03/27/2019
Release date: 06/04/2019
Genre: Religion
Book - 978-0-698-19158-7
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Audio book sample courtesy of Penguin Random House Audio
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