Item description for The Bible: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions) by John Riches...
Overview Professor Riches looks at the importance accorded to the Bible by different communities and cultures and attempts to explain why it has generated such a rich variety of uses and interpretations.
Publishers Description It is sometimes said that the Bible is one of the most unread books in the world, yet has been a major force in the development of Western culture and continues to exert an enormous influence over many people's lives. This Very Short Introduction looks at the importance accorded to the Bible by different communities and cultures and attempts to explain why it has generated such a rich variety of uses and interpretations. It explores how the Bible was written, the development of the canon, the role of Biblical criticism, the appropriation of the Bible in high and popular culture, and its use for political ends. About the Series: Combining authority with wit, accessibility, and style, Very Short Introductions offer an introduction to some of life's most interesting topics. Written by experts for the newcomer, they demonstrate the finest contemporary thinking about the central problems and issues in hundreds of key topics, from philosophy to Freud, quantum theory to Islam.
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Studio: Oxford University Press, USA
Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 6.89" Width: 4.42" Height: 0.39" Weight: 0.4 lbs.
Release Date Jun 15, 2000
Publisher Oxford University Press
Series Very Short Introductions
ISBN 0192853430 ISBN13 9780192853431
Availability 0 units.
More About John Riches
John Riches was until his retirement in 2003 Professor of Divinity and Biblical Criticism at Glasgow University. Among his books on the New Testament are Jesus and the Transformation of Judaism (1980), A Century of New Testament Study (1993) and Conflicting Mythologies (2000).
John Riches currently resides in Glasgow. John Riches has an academic affiliation as follows - University of Glasgow, UK University of Glasgow University of Glasgow,.
John Riches has published or released items in the following series...
Reviews - What do customers think about The Bible: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions)?
The bible appears confusing and incoherent Aug 10, 2007
To someone who grew up without the bible, the book appears confusing and incoherent. The author of this short introduction seems to agree with that judgement, but he does not explain it that way. Rather, he shows how each biblical community reads and interprets the biblical stories in its own way and from its own experience. He explains in some detail how this works in the Akedah, the story of Abraham and his son Isaac. Jewish interpreters read this as symbolic of Jewish suffering and faithfulness to god. Christian readers may see it as a foreshadowing of god's sacrifice of Jesus.
Skeptical critical examination has always been characteristic of the bible. The canon of books was assembled in antiquity from a much larger number of writings, most of which were rejected. Throughout history different interpretations gave rise to schism and heresy. The renaissance saw a very different reading of the bible by Protestants. Eventually enlightenment deists doubted most of the miracles; and today modern science demolished much of the cosmology and history in the bible.
The author shows us some of the innumerable ways in which the bible has been used, read, and interpreted. I think this is a balanced and realistic assessment of the book, which respects the many faithful for whom it remains holy scripture.
Thought Provoking Overview of the Bible Nov 29, 2006
I bought this book in connection with "Bibles Before the Year 1,000," an exhibit at the Freer-Sackler gallery in Washington, D.C. I wanted an overview of how the canon of what we now know as the Bible came to be adopted. According to this author, that process was a lot more ambiguous and fuzzy than we might imagine.
Riches succeeds at being reasonably objective. Yet because he apparently does not view the text as authoritative, this blinds him to the Holy Spirit's role in speaking and interpreting the text to those for whom faith is a relationship with Christ, and more than an intellectual exercise. And he fails to see that for those who believe in the presence of Jesus now, Christianity is more than the Bible. This is vital to how many Christians approach the text.
Overall though, I thought this was a great introduction to the Bible and its cultural impact, and I'm curious to learn more about the history of Christianity.
Nice homage to a cultural icon Nov 9, 2003
This "very short" (142 pages if you don't count the bibliography and indices) has turned me on to the entire Oxford University Press series of "Very Short Introductions." This still-expanding series covers a vast array of religious, historical, philosophical, scientific subjects (think of all the electives you never had time for in college). I've always been turned off by the flippancy of certain popular paperbacks that purport to explain the basics of a variety of topics. By padding their discussions with low-brow humor and patronizing detail, they end up being two or three times longer than they need to be. The Oxford VSI books, however, take both the reader's interest and time constraints seriously.
This VSI on the Bible, for instance, approaches its subject from a variety of angles (not just how the Bible came about over thousands of years, but how it has been interpreted by both people of faith and by Western culture at large). And the brevity of the text does not prevent the author from presenting some amazing ironies--like how the same book that has been used to oppress others (as Europe colonized and missionized the world) has served to give voice to those seeking to extricate themselves from the effects of colonialization. Two of the earlier chapters, "How the Bible Was Written" and "The Making of the Bible," do an amazing job of explaining the basics about how the Bible came about, what exactly is "the canon," and how and why one biblical voice differs from others (sometimes even within the same book of the Bible). The discussion is sane, balanced, and scholarly. Even people who have no interest in reading the Bible as a document of faith will have trouble disputing any of Riches's observations about this classic of Western literature. Well done, OUP!
An Intellectiual essay on the Bible Jan 24, 2002
Mr. Riches writes an essay on the Bible that I think presumes you have at least a basic familiarity with the bible. Those that do not will struggle at various points particularly if their history of the Middle East or the world is limited. Mr. Riches discusses the development of both the old and New Testaments, who wrote them, when and for what purpose. He notes that the bible was virtually a written guide for the sharing of community values. He notes that while the new testament concentrates on Christ and his meanings the old concentrates on Abraham while discussing the effects both had on their cultures. The former looks to the defeat of their oppressors while the latter looks to a return to Israel. The book also covers the effect the bible has had on modern culture, the bad such as exploitation of the Indians of South America because of their alleged inferiority and the good where Desmond Tutu utilizes the teachings of the bible to communicate to the Afrikaners that black Africans deserve to be treated as men, equals. Not a simple book, its challenging and a little too brief about the origins of the bible which I think is the most fascinating part of the book. But the again, it's a brief introduction.