Wednesday, February 16, 2011
The Rise and Fall of the Bible
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2011
Source: Received a free review copy via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review
I wasn't sure what to expect with this book but it looked interesting so I requested it. I was pleasantly surprised. Beal wants us to revise and rexamine our notions about the Bible and our interactions with it. The prevalent way of viewing the Bible seems to be that it is God's Word and that it contains the answers to every question in life. But that view is only about 150 years old and comes from the American evangelicalism of the time period.
But Beal finds that belief incomplete. Instead he challenges us to view the books of the Bible as retellings and reinterpretations of earlier Scripture. He wants us to bring ambiguity back in to our relationship with the words. One definitive answer is not necessarily what we should take away from our reading of the Bible. He further decries the outpouring of Bibles with value-content added. Meaning added sections that provide one interpretation as if it is the only one and are sometimes more read than the actual Scripture thus giving people a false sense of their understanding.
The production of so many different types of Bibles is also describing the sacred capital that has been accrued, something Beal applauds as it will help readers acquire their own thoughts and feelings instead of having them imposed on them by history.
Overall: Fascinating read; highly recommended!
*The first page of each chapter was missing so I didn't quite read the complete book but I read enough to know.