The Bible and the Believer: How to Read the Bible Critically and Religiously
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The Bible and the Believer: How to Read the Bible Critically and Religiously

by Marc Zvi Brettler, Peter Enns, Daniel J. Harrington
     
 

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Can the Bible be approached both as sacred scripture and as a historical and literary text? For many people, it must be one or the other. How can we read the Bible both ways? The Bible and the Believer brings together three distinguished biblical scholars--one Jewish, one Catholic, and one Protestant--to illustrate how to read the Hebrew Bible/ Old Testament

Overview

Can the Bible be approached both as sacred scripture and as a historical and literary text? For many people, it must be one or the other. How can we read the Bible both ways? The Bible and the Believer brings together three distinguished biblical scholars--one Jewish, one Catholic, and one Protestant--to illustrate how to read the Hebrew Bible/ Old Testament critically and religiously. Marc Zvi Brettler, Peter Enns, and Daniel J. Harrington tackle a dilemma that not only haunts biblical scholarship today, but also disturbs students and others exposed to biblical criticism for the first time, either in university courses or through their own reading. Failure to resolve these conflicting interpretive strategies often results in rejection of either the critical approach or the religious approach--or both. But the authors demonstrate how biblical criticism--the process of establishing the original contextual meaning of biblical texts with the tools of literary and historical analysis--need not undermine religious interpretations of the Bible, but can in fact enhance them. They show how awareness of new archeological evidence, cultural context, literary form, and other tools of historical criticism can provide the necessary preparation for a sound religious reading. And they argue that the challenges such study raises for religious belief should be brought into conversation with religious tradition rather than deemed grounds for dismissing either that tradition or biblical criticism. Guiding readers through the history of biblical exegesis within the Jewish, Catholic, and Protestant faith traditions, The Bible and the Believer bridges an age-old gap between critical and religious approaches to the Old Testament.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Three well-known Bible scholars from different religious traditions demystify the historical-critical approach to reading the Bible. Brettler explains the Jewish tradition of ongoing development of biblical interpretation. Enns has the complicated task of shedding light on Protestants' central relationship to Scripture, and he wisely first defines terms so readers can better understand which Protestants he means. Harrington illuminates Catholic attitudes toward the Bible. All offer fairly broad-brush overviews of a subject about which many more words could be expended, but this volume fruitfully unites different faith perspectives in multi-voiced conversation. Each major essay by a contributor includes short responses from the other two writers. Because of its focus and generality, this is a perfect book for Bible Studies 101 in seminaries and also for serious church groups. It shows that engaging one's God-given brain while reading sacred texts does not threaten in any way one's soul-anchored faith.
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From the Publisher
"The three scholarly authors of The Bible and the Believer- one for each of the Jewish, Catholic, and Protestant traditions -challenge readers religiously and intellectually." —The Catholic Weekly

"Arguing that historical analysis informs rather than compromises the Bible's religious significance, Brettler, Harrington, and Enns show how the Scriptures of Israel continue to speak, in both complementary and distinct ways, to Jews, Protestants, and Roman Catholics. This volume is a superb resource for the classroom, for ecumenical and interreligious conversations, and for anyone seeking lucid engagement with the text."—Amy-Jill Levine, co-author of The Meaning of the Bible: What the Jewish Scriptures and the Christian Old Testament Can Teach Us

"Some believe that reading the Bible from an academic point of view precludes reading it from a believer's point of view. But in this absolutely fascinating new book, three world-class scholars-Jewish, Catholic, and Protestant-turn their faithful hearts and scholarly minds to the Hebrew Bible, and invite the reader into a spirited conversation about among the three authors and the three religious perspectives. Along the way, readers are drawn deeper into the Bible, and are reminded that God speaks to us through both our heart and our head."—Rev. James Martin, S.J., author of The Jesuit Guide to (Almost) Everything

"Fundamentalism and skepticism—these polar extremes incite and invite from the left and the right, and many follow their call. Thank God for a book like The Bible and the Believer, which proposes a higher and better way forward—not making an idol or fetish of the biblical text on the one hand, and not disregarding or minimizing it on the other, but reverently and critically reading the text with hearts and minds fully engaged. Offering respectful dialogue and thoughtful reflection, The Bible and the Believer is a needed resource for all people of biblical faith."—Brian D. McLaren, author of Why Did Jesus, Moses, the Buddha and Mohammed Cross the Road?

"Each essay provides a wonderful entry into the richness of each tradition's perspectives on reading the Bible critically."—CHOICE

Library Journal
This work features Jewish, Catholic, and Protestant perspectives on the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament from three reputable scholars. Brettler (Biblical studies, Brandeis Univ.; How To Read the Jewish Bible), Peter Enns (Biblical studies, Eastern Univ.; The Evolution of Adam), and Daniel J. Harrington (New Testament, Boston Coll.; Meeting St. Mark Today) provide an overview of the historical-critical approach to Biblical studies and also sketch the history of hermeneutics. The authors contend that the Bible can be read critically as well as religiously; no dichotomy exists between an "academic Bible" and a "faith Bible." Overall, the authors wish to convey that a critical reading of the Bible is not a threat to religious believers. VERDICT This even-handed work is a welcome contribution not only to biblical scholars, but also to laity. It will foster respectful ecumenical as well as interfaith dialog (not debate). The extensive footnotes and glossary of terms further assist readers. A good addition to academic, theological, and general collections.—Brian Smith McCallum, Arlington Heights Memorial Lib., IL

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780199977161
Publisher:
Oxford University Press
Publication date:
10/01/2012
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Sales rank:
1,008,085
File size:
2 MB

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Meet the Author

Marc Zvi Brettler is the Dora Golding Professor of Biblical Studies at Brandeis University. He is the author of How to Read the Jewish Bible and co-editor of The Jewish Study Bible and The Jewish Annotated New Testament. Peter Enns teaches Biblical Studies at Eastern University. He is the author of The Evolution of Adam and Inspiration and Incarnation. Daniel J. Harrington, S.J. is a Professor of New Testament at Boston College. He is the author of Meeting St. Mark Today and How Do Catholics Read the Bible?.

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