>The Bible as Literature

>I have been highly involved in reading books and articles this summer and as a result, my daily blogging has suffered. The new academic year is just around the corner and much needs to be done before I go back to the classroom.

I have also been involved in writing. I have a writing project due at the end of August. I have done much research in preparation to write the article. Even though it is a short article, I read more than I should have, but I believe that now I am ready to write the article. I hope to take all of next week writing this article.

After I finish writing this article, I have one more to write and I hope to be able to finish writing it by the end of September. I have already done most of the research for the article. I just need to go to the library and begin putting my thoughts on paper. Now you understand what has prevented me from blogging regularly this summer.

I recently finished reading the book The Bible as Literature (New York: Oxford University Press, 2006). The book was written by John B. Gabel, Charles B. Wheeler, Anthony D. York, and David Citino. This is one of the books I am planning to use in a new course I am teaching this fall.

The book introduces students to the Bible as literature. This approach will be refreshing to my students because I am sure that most of them have never considered the literary aspect of the Bible. Most Christians study the Bible devotionally, that is, they seek to find in Scriptures spiritual guidance and comfort, the kind of help that will strengthen their faith and their relationship with God.

However, the Bible is a body of writing produced by people who were influenced by their culture and society. As such, the Bible is a literary production and a human work. To people of faith, the Bible was written by real people under the influence of the Holy Spirit. This is the reason the Bible is a special book.

Thus, the writers of The Bible as Literature want to present the Bible as a human document that has been used for millennia as a vehicle that provides inspiration, moral guidance, and religious teaching to people of faith.

In their presentation, the authors deal with the literary aspects of the Bible and how the Bible relates to other literature of the Ancient Near East. They discuss topics such as the historical and physical settings of the Old Testament and the New Testament, the formation of the canon, and the nature of prophecy, wisdom, apocalypse, and Gospel.

The authors also deal with the text of the Bible, issues of translations and interpretation, and the different aspects of biblical criticism. They conclude the book with a study of women in the Bible.

In four appendices they deal with the name of the God of Israel, writing in biblical times, Palestine in the intertestamental period, and the critical study of the Bible.

I enjoyed reading this book. For people who teach the Bible regularly, much of the content of this book is not new. However, for pastors and college or seminary students, the book provides a wealth of information addressing the basic concepts that are essential to a scholarly study of the Bible.

I am sure that some Christians may not like the approach taken by the authors of this book because they view the Bible from a literary perspective. However, this book provides answers to many of the questions seminary students ask in class. I highly recommend this book.

Claude Mariottini
Professor of Old Testament
Northern Baptist Seminary

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