A History of the Bible


This book tells the story of the Bible, how it came to be constructed and how it has been understood, from its remote beginnings down to the present. It describes how the disparate writings which comprise the Bible were written and when, as well as what we know – and what we cannot know – about their authors and what they might have meant. 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. Rather than the fixed, coherent text it is often perceived to be, the Bible is revealed to be 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 shows 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. A landmark in its field, A History of the Bible makes us rethink the central book of Western culture and the foundation of two world religions.
Published 2020.

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Barton, John