An Introduction to the Bible: A Journey Into Three Worlds (5th Edition)

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9780130316783: An Introduction to the Bible: A Journey Into Three Worlds (5th Edition)

For one-term, freshman/sophomore-level courses in Introduction to the Bible, Introduction to the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament, Introduction to the New Testament, The Bible as Literature, Introduction to Religion. Widely acknowledged as the best one-volume introduction to the Bible, this popular text explores the literary, historical, and contemporary worlds of the Bible, and is ideal for those who have had little or no previous exposure to the subject. Drawing on the most recent trends in biblical scholarship, the authors introduce students to the dynamics of each of these worlds and the methods scholars have developed to study them, and encourage students to engage in lively discussions of the contemporary significance of the Bible. The text is not meant to be a substitute for reading the Bible, but rather enables instructors and students to explore the Bible more meaningfully themselves.

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From the Publisher:

Designed for those who have had little or no previous exposure to the academic study of the Bible, this text explores -- individually -- the literary, historical, and contemporary worlds of the Bible.

From the Inside Flap:

Preface

An Introduction to the Bible: A Journey into Three Worlds is an introductory text for college students and general readers who have had little or no previous exposure to the academic study of the Bible. The three worlds are the historical world out of which the Bible emerged and through which it came to us; the literary world (or worlds) created by the Bible itself; and the contemporary world in which we read and try to understand the Bible.

The first two worlds are likely to be strange and possibly confusing for a person entering them for the first time. The historical world involves not just the history of events to which the Bible alludes. It also encompasses the original historical context surrounding the Bible; the literary history of the Bible, which means the writing, collection, copying, passing on, and interpretation of the books through time; and the process through which the books became Scripture. The literary world is equally complex. The Bible is not so much a book as it is a library. The biblical collection contains various types of literature.

Like someone traveling in a foreign country for the first time, a student embarking on an initial study of the Bible deserves an orientation before beginning the journey. Chapter 1 can be compared to an orientation to the geography, customs, and language of a new country. We will acquaint you with a few basics about each of the three worlds into which you will be venturing. Chapter 2 is like the practical preparation a student about to go abroad receives concerning such matters as how to rent a room, get to the bathroom, use the telephone, or travel on trains. We will introduce you to the methods of analysis used in the academic study of the literary and historical worlds of the Bible and to some of the ways the Bible is interpreted in the contemporary world.

However, as is the case with travel, orientation is no substitute for the journey itself. In Chapters 3 through 15, we will guide you through the literary and historical worlds of the Bible and raise questions that stimulate you to consider the contemporary world of the various books.

We have tried hard to avoid the latest academic jargon. Where technical terms were necessary for clarity, we tried to state clearly what they mean.

In our discussions of the literary and historical worlds, our intent was to describe, not to evaluate. We hope that persons of a variety of religious backgrounds, or no religious background, will feel comfortable with our descriptions. Our purpose was to create a basis for people of various convictions about the Bible to examine its literary and historical worlds. This will, we hope, create a common ground for meaningful discussion of the contemporary world. Often, when people engage in conversation about the Bible without such a foundation, they end up talking past one another.

An Introduction to the Bible combines two of the major recent trends in biblical scholarship with more traditional concerns of biblical study. One new trend is the application of social scientific models and general history of religions models in biblical study. The second is intrinsic literary interpretation of biblical texts. We have tried to make a very clear distinction between literary inquiry and historical study. On the basis of our classroom experience, we have found that introductory students benefit from an approach that keeps the historical and literary worlds separate. It will become obvious to even the most naive reader that this dichotomy cannot and should not be pushed too far. We have also tried to make greater use of recent research in Jewish studies than is common in introductory texts, particularly in our treatment of postexilic Israel and the New Testament period.

Ideally, a student should read the entire section of the Bible along with the discussion of it. We hope that the general reader, uncoerced by the time limits of an academic schedule, will be able to do just that. At the very least, our analyses of certain materials will require students to consult those particular passages. We have very deliberately tried to write a book that introduces the Bible without becoming a substitute for reading the Bible itself. Our reason for this is quite simple. No secondary text, however excellent, can replace the experience of the primary text itself. A book about Shakespeare is no substitute for Hamlet, nor is a book about the Bible a substitute for Genesis.

We are gratified that the first four editions of An Introduction to the Bible have been well received by students and teachers alike. In this fifth edition, we have benefited from the constructive suggestions of a number, of readers, including students in our classes. Our intention has been to update and enhance our treatment of the three worlds of the Bible, without changing our basic approach.

In this edition we have made both major and minor changes. Perhaps most significant is the addition of an annotated list of movies and documentary films related to the Bible. Some on this list are major motion pictures, both the famous and the little known, from the era of silent films to the present. They reflect the concerns and cinematic style of the periods in which they were made and help illustrate the history of interpretation of the Bible in popular culture. Others on this list are among the films produced with the assistance of biblical scholars in an effort to enhance readers' understanding of the literary or historical worlds of the Bible. Many of these films are well suited for classroom use. All the movies and films are readily available on video tape for rental or purchase, through outlets included with the list.

We have also added a discussion in Chapter 16 of the role of the Bible in recent speculation about the "end time," a topic particularly relevant in an edition carrying the date 2001. In the same chapter, we have reflected on the recent controversies over the interpretation of the Bible by modern artists and the increasing presence of the Bible in widely watched television shows.

The questions for discussion and reflection at the end of chapters have also been updated with additional questions on controversial ethical issues such as homosexuality. In addition, we have drawn on recent scholarship to change and clarify the literary and historical interpretation of the Bible on scores of issues addressed in Chapters 3 through 15. We have also thoroughly updated the annotated bibliography, listing the latest and best works in biblical scholarship for readers who want to continue their study of the three worlds of the Bible beyond this introduction.

We believe that disciplined scholarship is a cumulative enterprise. The fifth edition thus incorporates a substantial number of smaller revisions aimed at keeping our treatment abreast of recent developments, and at saying things with greater precision and clarity. Once more, we express appreciation to the readers retained by Prentice Hall, other colleagues around the country, students, and other readers whose comments and criticisms have, we trust, made this fifth edition a better book than the fourth edition.

The reception accorded the first four editions has been a source of great satisfaction, not in the least because the book may have helped many people grow in their understanding of the Bible in its several worlds. Our hope is that the current edition may continue to advance that process. Acknowledgments

Any major publishing project involves the work of many persons. We would like to express our particular appreciation to the following: Wayne Spohr, Prentice Hall field editor, gave early guidance and encouragement; Ross Miller, religion and philosophy editor, offered advice and support for this fifth edition; and Joe Scordato, production editor, skillfully saw this edition through to completion. Westminster College religious studies major Radostina Todorova edited the index for this edition.

Professor Lou Silberman generously provided the foreword. Professor Robert Seelinger, Messrs. Dan Engle and Bill Wilson, and the late Rev. Arthur Young assisted with photographic illustrations. Liz Hauer, former interlibrary loan librarian at Reeves Library, Westminster College, provided access to documentary sources otherwise unavailable in central Missouri, and made major contributions to the preparation of the fourth edition index. We would like to thank Frederick H. Shively, Professor of Bible and Religion at Anderson University, for his helpful suggestions for this new edition.

The Scripture quotations in this publication are from the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the U.S.A., and used by permission. All rights reserved.

It would be quite impossible in this limited space to acknowledge the contributions of all those scholarly colleagues whose works, and whose comments and advice on our own research, made the book possible. Nor can gratitude be restricted to merely our own

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