01 Invention of the Bible

OFB, 3–15

PART ONE addresses more generic issues about the Bible, under the general theme of "People of the Book." Interestingly, that phrase comes from Islam, rather than from Judaism or Christianity. The Arabic term, Ahl al-Kitab, was used to designate Jews and Christians as communities that shared a common religious tradition with Islam, and to distinguish them from pagans.

Overview of chapter one
  • This chapter devotes considerable attention to a "world religions" perspective on the Bible, asking what insights into the nature and function of the Scriptures might flow from paying attention to the role of sacred texts in major world religions. This discussion includes some reflections on the nature of sacred texts, and the soiological conditions required for the creation of such writings.
  • The middle section of the chapter focuses on the relationships that exist between the Tanakh, the Bible and the Qur'an.
  • The third section addresses the problem posed by variations in the ancient biblical manuscripts, and invites you to reflect on the question of "just what kind of a book do we have in the Bible when its contents can vary from one copy to another?"
  • The cameo essay explores some of the issues involved in choosing a Bible.

Web links that are especially relevant to this chapter include: