The Bible and the Believer
Co-written with Marc Brettler and Daniel Harrington, Oxford, 2012
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 illustrates how to read the Hebrew Bible/ Old Testament critically and religiously from three religious perspectives, and 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.
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.
“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