Tag Archives: Book

“The Bible” — a misnomer?

This is the last post in our introduction to What is the Bible. Next we will start to look at specific biblical passages and deduce hypotheses concerning the biblical text’s composite nature.

Does the label “the Bible”—“the Book”—accurately represent its content, that is the once separate, numerous, and often competing, texts and traditions that were written over a thousand-year period by different authors, to different audiences, and to address the needs and concerns of different peoples, worldviews, and even beliefs? How could it? It is a label that by its very nature imposes a homogeneous interpretive framework onto what is then viewed as a canonical book, which was furthermore a product of a later generation of readers, who were themselves influenced by the needs, concerns, and beliefs of their own historical era.

In a very real sense, then, “the Bible” as a title for this collection of ancient texts and … Read more

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What is the Bible? (Part 3)

So what does the Bible itself tell us about its compositional nature? We are now able to respond objectively to this question:

The Bible is a collection of ancient texts and traditions.

Granted, this does not yet tell us much, but it is an objective starting point and one that can readily be accepted by Jews and Christians of various persuasions, and even agnostics and atheists. Indeed, there is not much here to dispute. A glance at the Bible’s table of contents would only confirm our initial assessment: the Bible is in fact a compilation of other books, a book composed of other books. In other words, the Bible is a composite text, a text composed out of earlier texts and traditions.

This very fact presents us with a bit of an irony. The Bible, a word which literally means “Book,” is actually no book at all, but rather a … 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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