Monthly Archives: April 2012

What is the Bible? (Part 2)

In Part 1, I suggested that there were two distinct ways one might respond to our query What is the Bible?: subjectively and objectively—the former focusing on what the Bible means from the perspective of the individual subject, and the latter on what the Bible is from the perspective of the Bible itself, the object under examination. I also suggested that when the vast majority of people think about, invoke, refer to, attempt to define or describe the Bible and what it is, this is done from a purely subjective level. In other words, ‘what the Bible is’ gets reduced to what the Bible means to an individual, to various faith-communities, or even to a culture. Thus when one invokes the Bible, they are usually invoking a subjective idea of the Bible, and not the actual biblical texts themselves. Let me enumerate by way of an example.

In her Bible: Read more

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The Bible vs “the Bible”

Can the Bible be opposed to, or contrary to, “the Bible”? Huh? Are there two Bibles? Well that might depend on what we mean by Bible? The word “Bible” literally means “book,” and indeed this Book is in fact composed of 66 different “books” (biblia)—more exactly scrolls and codices—many of which are also composed of smaller units of texts and traditions. But that is not the conversation I am aiming at here. Rather, put bluntly: is there a difference between the label “the Bible”/“the Book” and all that it implies, and the actual texts that make up this so-called “Book”?


Let’s say I write a text that serves a specific purpose or ideological aim, the writing of which is prompted by my own or my culture’s historical circumstances and concerns, and is addressed to a specific audience or community. It is a text advocating a particular practice, … Read more

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What is the Bible? (Part 1)

What is the Bible and how did it come to be? is the question I’ve posed for my current research and writing project, and thus also our topic for discussion here. It is a fair question, and one that should be of interest to a large number of individuals, regardless of religious affiliation. Yet before we attempt to answer this rather sensitive question, I’d like us first to think about the question itself, about the ways in which we might respond to such a question, and to think about the givens or assumptions that may already be inherent in our question as well as in any pre-defined, even pre-mature, answers we might harbor before the biblical text is actually studied.

What is the Bible? is a good question. But what do we mean by that question? Is what I as a biblical scholar mean by this question the same as … Read more

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Welcome to everything biblical

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I created this blog as a forum to write about, share, discuss, and ultimately educate the public on biblical topics related to my current book projects—an attempt to gauge, and engage with, public reaction, comments, concerns, and even questions. At present there are two books that I’m busy working on: What is the Bible and How Did It Come to Be? and The Bible’s Many Authors and the Contradictory Texts They Left Behind. As these titles indicate, I’m most interested in the textual history of the Bible: When were these texts written, by whom, and what political, religious, and literary circumstances prompted our biblical authors to write what they did and to whom? How and why were these texts adopted, modified, edited, and even reinterpreted by later generations of readers? What historical (i.e., political and religious) circumstances brought this about? How, when, and why were these texts transmitted, collected, … Read more

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