From Publishers Weekly
It's commonplace by now to recognize that every reader or group of readers understands the Bible differently. What these readers do hold in common, however, is the notion that Scripture contains the words of God to humankind. Using the reader-response theory of Stanley Fish and Gadamer's hermeneutics (that every interpreter understands a text based on his or her own horizon of expectations regarding that text), Katz provides a sometimes fascinating, sometimes frustrating overview of the history of the Bible's reception. He traces the evolution in the interpretation of the Bible from Martin Luther and the Reformation to modern American fundamentalism. For example, Luther's community of interpretation read the Bible literally according to Luther's own dictum of sola scripturaonly Scripture was authoritative for faith and practice. By the 19th century, however, the certainty that the Bible formed a unified whole was challenged not only by Darwin's theory of evolution but also by the advent of a biblical criticism that emphasized the numerous sources that lay behind the various books of the Bible. In a brief section on American fundamentalism, Katz observes that this community's reading of the Bible echoes the literalism of Luther's readings. While the book offers a completely different model for thinking about the impact of the Bible on culture, Katz's academic tone and his references in the introduction to a number of philosophers requires a great deal of effort from readers unacquainted with these ideas.
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About the Author
David Katz holds the Abraham Horodisch Chair for the History of Books at Tel-Aviv University.