From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. Pelikan, Sterling professor emeritus of history at Yale University and author of a number of respected books in the area of Christian belief and tradition (e.g., Jesus Through the Centuries
), presents an outstanding introduction to the development, use and acceptance of the biblical canon over the centuries. As the title suggests, different groups have claimed ownership to the canonization process. Even today, Bibles vary in their content and in their philosophy of translation. Beginning with the long heritage of the oral tradition, then exploring the writing and editing of the biblical texts, Pelikan takes the reader through the process of scripture building with a fluency and ease that is both accessible and understandable to the nonscholar. His treatment of modern critical methods is particularly well done. Pelikan has a sure sense of history and context, surrounding the story with a wealth of detail, including some well-chosen anecdotes that add to the reader's enjoyment. He appreciates the ways in which tradition and commentary have influenced both the text itself and our understanding of the text, all the while expressing a love for the Bible and a perceptive grasp of the processes that brought it to its current state. This excellent work merits wide circulation and study. (Mar. 7)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
As the sacred text of Jews and Christians alike, the Bible has never lacked for claimants. Beginning with the ancient oral traditions surrounding Abraham and Moses, Pelikan recounts how the early Israelites finally recorded their beliefs in a Hebrew text. Continuous addition of historical and prophetic texts, the growth of rabbinic commentaries, and the translation of the text into Greek made construing scripture a complex task even before adherents to a new scriptural faith reinterpreted the entire Hebrew Bible as an Old Testament important chiefly for prophecies fulfilled in a radical New Testament. The writing of this Christian New Testament itself sparked controversies among divergent branches of Christianity, but it is the endless battles between Jews and Christians that Pelikan takes as his primary focus. In the surprisingly parallel strategies of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Jewish and Christian leaders defending scripture against rationalism, Pelikan sees a tragically missed opportunity to heal the religious breach. Hoping the twenty-first century brings something better, Pelikan concludes with an appeal for an interfaith understanding of the Bible that will sweep away centuries of antipathy. Bryce ChristensenCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved