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The Bible and the Believer: How to Read the Bible Critically and Religiously Hardcover – September 24, 2012

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press (September 24, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0199863008
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199863006
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 0.9 x 6.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #782,131 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"The three scholarly authors of The Bible and the Believer- one for each of the Jewish, Catholic, and Protestant traditions -challenge readers religiously and intellectually." --The Catholic Weekly"Arguing that historical analysis informs rather than compromises the Bible's religious significance, Brettler, Harrington, and Enns show how the Scriptures of Israel continue to speak, in both complementary and distinct ways, to Jews, Protestants, and Roman Catholics. This volume is a superb resource for the classroom, for ecumenical and interreligious conversations, and for anyone seeking lucid engagement with the text."--Amy-Jill Levine, co-author of The Meaning of the Bible: What the Jewish Scriptures and the Christian Old Testament Can Teach Us"Some believe that reading the Bible from an academic point of view precludes reading it from a believer's point of view. But in this absolutely fascinating new book, three world-class scholars-Jewish, Catholic, and Protestant-turn their faithful hearts and scholarly minds to the Hebrew Bible, and invite the reader into a spirited conversation about among the three authors and the three religious perspectives. Along the way, readers are drawn deeper into the Bible, and are reminded that God speaks to us through both our heart and our head."--Rev. James Martin, S.J., author of The JesuitGuide to (Almost) Everything"Fundamentalism and skepticism--these polar extremes incite and invite from the left and the right, and many follow their call. Thank God for a book like The Bible and the Believer, which proposes a higher and better way forward--not making an idol or fetish of the biblical text on the one hand, and not disregarding or minimizing it on the other, but reverently and critically reading the text with hearts and minds fully engaged. Offering respectful dialogue and thoughtful reflection, The Bible and the Believer is a needed resource for all people of biblical faith."--Brian D. McLaren, author of Why Did Jesus, Moses, the Buddha and Mohammed Cross the Road?"Each essay provides a wonderful entry into the richness of each tradition's perspectives on reading the Bible critically."--CHOICE

About the Author

Marc Zvi Brettler is the Dora Golding Professor of Biblical Studies at Brandeis University. He is the author of How to Read the Jewish Bible and co-editor of The Jewish Study Bible and The Jewish Annotated New Testament.

Peter Enns teaches Biblical Studies at Eastern University. He is the author of The Evolution of Adam and Inspiration and Incarnation.

Daniel J. Harrington, S.J. is a Professor of New Testament at Boston College. He is the author of Meeting St. Mark Today and How Do Catholics Read the Bible?.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

27 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Paul R. Bruggink on October 3, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book has the same format as the 3/4/5 Views books. After an Introduction, the three authors (Jewish, Roman Catholic & Protestant biblical scholars) present a description their faith's views of the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament in a 30- to 40-page essay, including an example of biblical criticism in practice. Each essay is followed by brief comments by the other two scholars and a Further Reading section.

Jewish biblical scholar Marc Zvi Brettler presents the Jewish view that the interpretation rather than the biblical text itself is primary. He then describes the many facets of Jewish interpretation over the centuries. The difficult historical problems in the Torah are "not a core problem for Judaism because for Jews the Bible is not primarily a book of history to be interpreted literally." In addition, "according to Judaism, biblical books were canonized because they were authoritative, not because they were perceived as being divinely inspired."

Roman Catholic biblical scholar Daniel J. Harrington, S.J. points out that Catholics "view the Bible as primarily a witness to a person, Jesus of Nazareth." "Catholics believe the Bible was written by human authors under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. It is the word of God in human language". Catholic theologians tend to hold the view that the Vatican Council taught the "limited inerrancy" (only what pertains to salvation is inerrant) of Scripture. Catholic interpretation of Scripture is more centralized in the Magisterium (the Teaching Office of the Church).

Protestant biblical scholar Peter Enns points out that "in Protestantism the Bible is pressed into the role of supreme religious authority in a way that Scripture may have trouble supporting.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By GTO on October 26, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition
A very interesting look into the triumphs and fallacies of Biblical Criticism. All three scholars bring a questioning view into the debate, but only the protestant, Enns, seems to carry his criticism even close to its final conclusion. The Jewish Brettler, ultimately turns to the Rabbi's writings and interpretation, as does Harrington, relying on the Catholic Church's ultimate interpretation of scripture. Enns seems to end up at a place where he believes because he wants to, not because his view of the evidence leads him to belief. The other two fall back on tradition to bring them to belief. The biggest take-away from this book is that we all make assumptions about the Bible and God's involvement of the Bible coming together. Once those assumptions are made, whether those assumptions are that the Bible was written by men or written by God, that God has the ability to interact with this world in a miraculous way or not, that all religions are the same or that there is only one form of absolute truth, we are drawn to conclusions that cannot coexist with the conclusions made by a person who accepts different assumptions. This is a great book to bring that point home.
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9 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Gary D. Patterson on October 20, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The Bible being considered here is the Jewish corpus.
Three of the best Old Testament scholars share a common
love of these texts, but work from three different faith
communities: Jewish, Roman Catholic and Protestant.
They also share a basic hermeneutics: the historical-critical method.
The product is like a good musical trio: the voices are different,
but they blend to give a richer sound.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Collin Rudkin on January 14, 2014
Format: Hardcover
The subtile of this book reflects its central issue: how do people of faith take seriously both the religious nature of the Bible and the well-supported claims of historical criticism? Many times, these two possible readings seem mutually exclusive. Brettler, Enns, and Harrington each contribute a substantive essay showing how one might synthesize the critical and religious readings instead of choosing only one, or rejecting both.

I can happily recommend this book. From three perspectives, it takes and honest look at the real challenges in reading Scripture critically and religiously. It doesn't provide an easy or formulaic answer to this struggle, but it does convincingly present it is an issue worth wrestling with nonetheless.

Those new to the discussion as well as those who have thought about these difficulties for some time can all benefit from this book.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The traditional understanding of higher criticism from the Evangelical viewpoint is that it is a priori a destroyer of biblical authority. Here we have three views, Catholic, Jewish, and Evangelical that support both the historical critical method and a reverence for the biblical text. The interplay of ideas and traditions among the the three is enlightening in itself. A useful volume in countering parochialism.
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