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A History of the Bible

by Dr John Barton

History

A History of the Bible Synopsis

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 texts 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. Incisive readings shed new light on even familiar passages, exposing not only the traditions behind them, but also the busy hands of the scribes and editors who assembled them.

Tracing its dissemination 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 Spinoza have reckoned with this. Barton shows that if we are to regard the Bible as ‘authoritative’, it cannot be as believers have so often done in the past.

A History of the Bible Press Reviews

This is a remarkable book. ... It is just the thing for educated and intelligent readers who want to know more about the Bible, which has left so deep a mark on the cultures of the world. ... This is a book for our time, and it is warmly recommended. -- Nicholas King SJ - Tablet

Hugely important ... This very readable and judicious work should be a must for preachers, teachers, and all who are serious about the Bible's place in their religion. -- Anthony Phillips - Church Times

Barton is a sure-footed guide ... A serious book for serious readers. In it they will find all they want and much more, lucidly set out and explained -- Richard Harries - Literary Review

This magisterial account of the book and its history ... is the book to hurl at the new atheists who quote from the embarrassing bits of the Old Testament to discredit the God project. ... It's fascinating. -- Melanie McDonagh - Evening Standard

Barton remains the scholar that he ever was. ... Barton's book is an achievement in the finest tradition of Anglicanism: learned, mild-mannered and quietly anxious about the challenges of reconciling scepticism with faith. -- Tom Holland - Financial Times

Belief in the Bible as 'the preserved word of God' is prevalent in many sections of the Christian Church, but it is one Barton sets out to challenge in this calm and magisterial work -- Richard Holloway - Spectator

John Barton has written a wise and eminently sane book about a book which has inspired both insanity and wisdom. It is a landmark in the field, and it will do great good -- Diarmaid MacCulloch A superb overview ... Barton wears his erudition lightly, but even for those deeply familiar with the Bible there is much here to be learnt -- Bart D Ehrman - Telegraph

As eminently readable as the best of travelogues, it floods with light a subject too often regarded by many as a closed book. ... With emotional and psychological insight, Barton unlocks this sleeping giant of our culture. In the process, he has produced a masterpiece. ... If it can only be liberated from such a straitjacket and allowed to become its full self, the Bible might just chime once more in a sceptical age. Barton's extraordinary tour de force is the first book I have ever read that makes that feel possible. -- Peter Stanford - Sunday Times

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All versions of this book

ISBN: 9780241003916
Publication date: 04/04/2019
Publisher: Allen Lane an imprint of Penguin Books Ltd
Format: Hardback

Book Information

ISBN: 9780241003916
Publication date: 4th April 2019
Author: Dr John Barton
Publisher: Allen Lane an imprint of Penguin Books Ltd
Format: Hardback
Pagination: 640 pages
Genres: History,
Categories: History of religion, Judaism: sacred texts, Christian theology,

About Dr John Barton

John Barton was the Oriel and Laing Professor of the Interpretation of Holy Scripture at the University of Oxford from 1991 to 2014 and since 1973 has been a serving priest in the Church of England. He is the author of numerous books on the Bible, co-editor of The Oxford Bible Commentary and editor of The Cambridge Companion to Biblical Interpretation. He was elected a Fellow of the British Academy in 2007 and is a Corresponding Fellow of the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters.

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