A History of the Bible

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A History of the Bible

Post by spot »

I picked up a copy of “A History of the Bible: The Story of the World’s Most Influential Book,” by John Barton, 2019. I thought I'd jot my reaction here rather than let it evaporate. Has anyone else seen it so far?

This is the one... A History of the Bible: The Book and Its Faiths
From the introduction:
There are many ‘prophecy novels’ on the market that deal with these themes. The most famous and
influential are the eighteen or so in the ‘Left Behind’ series. 17 The first, called simply Left Behind,
envisages the rapture as happening all over the world at a single moment. Aeroplanes drop from the
sky as their pilots are ‘raptured’, cars crash and there is immense suffering, but there are also
conversions to Christian faith by those who recognize what is happening. The plot is tied up with other
themes of modern American thought: the threat of Russia, the undesirability of pan-global
organizations such as the United Nations, the need to keep American culture pure and pristine, safe
from demonic influences such as the European Union. Naturally, by no means all Christian Americans
who support Israel do so because they believe in this scenario, but a substantial number do. Pre
millennialism, as the system of thought is known technically, is a widespread evangelical strain in
Anglophone Christianity.

That's a helpful pointer to the way John Barton might be approaching matters.
Nullius in verba|||||||||||
To Fate I sue, of other means bereft, the only refuge for the wretched left.

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User avatar
spot
Posts: 40084
Joined: Tue Apr 19, 2005 5:19 pm
Location: Brigstowe

Re: A History of the Bible

Post by spot »

Here's a further part of the introduction, very much along the lines of what I'd subscribe to. I'm pleased to see it actually in a book.
The books of what is now the Old Testament thus probably came into existence between the ninth
and the second centuries BCE. This does not necessarily mean that the records of earlier ages are
pure fiction, but it makes it hard to press their details as solid historical evidence. Many readers of the
Bible would recognize that the stories of the early history of the world – Noah’s Ark, the Tower of
Babel – are mythical or legendary, but it may be more challenging to think that the stories of Abraham
or Jacob or Moses are also essentially legends, even though people bearing those names may well
have existed. No one is in a position to say they are definitely untrue, but there is no reasonable
evidence that would substantiate them. This is also the case with the early kings, Saul, David and
Solomon, even though the stories about them do make sense within a period (the eleventh and tenth
centuries BCE) about which we know something, from the archaeological record. With the later,
eighth- and seventh-century kings (for example, Hezekiah and Jehoiachin) there is definite
corroboration from Assyrian and Babylonian records, and we are less in the dark. But even some of
the stories of life after the exile, in the Persian period, may be fictional: most biblical scholars think
that the book of Esther, for example, is a kind of novella rather than a piece of historical writing. A
later date does not of itself mean that a given book is more likely to be accurate: much depends on its
genre, as we shall see in the next chapter.
Nullius in verba|||||||||||
To Fate I sue, of other means bereft, the only refuge for the wretched left.

Who has a spare two minutes to play in this month's FG Trivia game!
My other operating system is Slackware

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