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Biblical Literacy: The Essential Bible Stories Everyone Needs to Know Paperback – October 12, 2010
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“With skill and insight, Timothy Beal has given us a great gift: a lucid and engaging introduction to the most important book ever published.” (Jon Meacham, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of American Lion and editor of Newsweek)
“No book has shaped more culture, value and meaning [than the Bible]. Beal skillfully retells key biblical narratives but also cogently relates them to significant events in history. This is a readable, informative and timely book.” (Harvey Cox, Hollis Research Professor of Divinity, Harvard University, and author of The Future of Faith)
“For those who are approaching the Bible for the first time . . . there is no better place to turn than Timothy Beal’s Biblical Literacy. Here you will find numerous gems of the Jewish and Christian Scriptures, along with pithy, helpful, and at times even witty, introductions.” (Bart D. Ehrman, James A. Gray Professor of Religious Studies, University of North Caroline, Author of Jesus, Interrupted)
“A fun and refreshing reference that gives a fresh look at Bible stories many people thought they knew.” (The News-Herald)
“Beal, who compiled need-to-know Bible stories in his new book, Biblical Literacy, talks about how these Sunday school stories are ingrained in pop culture. They are making appearances at your dinner parties, in your favorite music and in a theater near you.” (Religion News Service)
“Beal makes a case for reading, and yes, enjoying, the Bible.” (Interfaith Voices)
“In his new book, Biblical Literacy, he introduces readers to key biblical passages and their cultural significance.” (United Methodist Reporter)
“Beal… makes a well-stated case that a knowledge of the Bible is essential to understanding our culture. His book will serve as a handy first step toward that goal-- especially for the reader who may feel intimidated by ‘the boring bits.’” (Bookpage)
From the Back Cover
Everything You Need to KnowAbout the Bible’s Most Important Stories.
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Top Customer Reviews
If you are relatively familiar with the Bible, even in a general sense, this book might well earn a 1-star rating.
Hence, a somewhat shaky 3-star review.
For those who are not familiar with the Bible, this book, as promised in the subtitle, "The Best Bits Without All the Boring Bits," is an excellent summary of the Bible, its key stories and terms that influence our culture, speech and interaction with each other on a daily basis.
If, however, you are generally familiar with the Bible and are looking for ways and examples on how it has shaped our cuture, this book is long on scripture and short on examples of cultural influence. In that sense it is woefully lacking and long on scripture, primarly a retelling of the old familiar, even semi-familiar stories.
The introduction to the book and introductions to the Old and the New Testaments and certain books therein are good and well worth reading, though a Biblical literalist will have trouble with them.
The Glossery of Key Biblical Words and the collection/explanation of Familiar Phrases and Images at the end may the best, most useful and generally informative part of the book.
Not a great book, but not a bad one. The less you know about the Bible, the better it is; the more you know about the Bible, the more lacking it is.
So, take your choice: To read or not to read, that is the question!!!
Beal chooses these stories because he believes that "Biblical literacy is a prerequisite for cultural literacy" (p. XV) and goes on to provide copious examples, both in his introduction and in the text, of the role of Bible stories and Bible characters in shaping our culture.
About two years ago, I read Beal's "The Rise and Fall of the Bible: The Unexpected History of an Accidental Book," which was published in 2011. That book was most enlightening about the process by which the contents of today's Bible were collected, revised, translated, and retranslated, approved by orthodox clerics, and entered into the Jewish and Christian canon of beliefs over a period of thousands of years. Beal was able to make sense of all that history.
"Biblical Literacy" is not an attempt to understand the history of these stories. It simply takes the stories as they are, presents a little introduction to each, and then lets the Bible verses themselves do the storytelling. (Beal uses the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
We employ this text in a Sunday School " Intro to the Bible" class and have found it very useful for those not deeply familiar with the Bible as a whole. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Richard Perrine
I know it would be a very long book if the author included more "popular" references to Biblical stories, but I just wish there were more. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Jill Partridge
We used this book with an adult study group that has been using "Reading Between The Lines," published by the Educational Center ([...]). Read morePublished 5 months ago by D. Andrew Kille
Great resource for students interested in Western culture in literature but don't necessarily have a background in Christianity.Published 9 months ago by Amazon Customer
Did not disappoint and should be required reading for High School studentsPublished 11 months ago by Gabrielle Askin
Many books which examine the essential stories of the Bible fail to prove why these stories are significant. They provide a summary of the story, but don't elaborate on commentary. Read morePublished 12 months ago by Trixie L
This book was recommended to me as something that would give overviews with parallels to current times. Read morePublished on July 28, 2014 by M. Baxter