00 Introduction

OFB, xv–xxi

The Introduction might best be read as preparatory material, perhaps along with the Foreword by J. Harold Ellens, prior to a preliminary meeting of the study group—whether starting with module one or with a later section of the book. Having been read the once, it would not need to be repeated prior to starting any further modules.

It may also be helpful for each participant to come with a prepared response to the following questions:

1. What is my strongest impression/memory of the Bible from my childhood?
2. In real terms, what role does the Bible play in my life these days?
3. What am I most concerned about when I contemplate the future influence of the Bible in our culture?

In the Introduction I provide a glimpse into my own personal journey and the perspectives that influence the way I read the Bible, and the way this book has been planned. It is important to take into account the personal perspectives of anyone with whom we are engaged in conversation, and I am no exception. I write from a particular point of view and for a certain kind of audience. You may like to try and describe the position from which I seem to be coming, and compare that with your own perspective as a reader of this book. Even if we are "poles apart" we may be able to engage in a positive and respectful conversation, and that is certainly my hope. Even if we share many points of view, we shall not always agree; and that is OK.

One statement of my position can be found in the short article, Religious Literacy on the Jesus Database web site. Critical literacy in religion, and especially with the Bible, strikes me as very important for the future of our global society, and I hope that this book can make a modest contribution to that goal. 

These links may provide more food for thought on the question of the great influence that the Bible has had on our culture:
Other web links especially relevant to the Introduction include: