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The Bible: A Very Short Introduction (2nd edition) [#014]
The Bible: A Very Short Introduction (2nd edition) [#014]

The Bible: A Very Short Introduction (2nd edition) [#014]

John Riches
  • A truly global history of the Bible from a leading expert in the field
  • Looks at readings of the Bible from the world of theology, philosophy, music, the visual arts, and poetry, as well as post-colonial and feminist readings
  • Examines the diversity of the Bible, from its numerous translations and complex textual history to the ways it has been interpreted by different communities
  • Shows how the Bible has played a formative role in the development of human culture

New to this Edition:

  • New chapter about the reception history of the Galatians, showing how it shaped different forms of Christianity, East and West, how it influenced the development of Europe at the Reformation, and how it continues to influence debates around gender
  • New chapter outlining how bibles were produced, translated, and distributed around the world in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries

The Bible is one of the world's most read and most influential books. It has provided many rules for people to live by, and has shaped our language and our shared beliefs in ways that have both drawn communities together and fueled bitter disputes and conflicts. Having played a major role in the development of Western culture, the Bible continues to exert an enormous influence over millions of lives.
This Very Short Introduction explores the material, cultural, and religious history of the Bible. Looking first at how the books of the Bible came to be written down and collected as authoritative sacred texts, John Riches goes on to show how they were produced and distributed across the world, and how they have been read and interpreted by differing communities in different languages. Riches compares how Jewish and Christian communities have interpreted the same passage of the Bible, and looks at some of the strikingly varied readings a very short book like Galatians has received over 2,000 years. Finally, he explores post-colonial and feminist readings of the Bible, and concludes by surveying the uses of the Bible in art, music, poetry, and politics.


List of illustrations
1:The Bible in the modern world: classic or sacred text?
2:How the Biblical books were written
3:The making of the Bible
4:The translation, production and distribution of the Bible
5:Jewish and Christian readings of the binding of Isaac
6:Galatians through history
7:The Bible and its critics
8:The Bible in the post-colonial world
9:The Bible in politics
10:The Bible in high and popular culture
Further reading
Index of biblical references
General index

About the author: 

John Riches, Emeritus Professor of Divinity and Biblical Criticism, University of Glasgow
John Riches was the Chaplain and Fellow at Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge, where he taught philosophy of religion from 1968 to 1972. He then taught the New Testament at Glasgow University from 1973 to 2002, with periods as a visiting lecturer in theological colleges in apartheid and post-apartheid South Africa. Riches' major areas of study have been the Gospels and Paul, with a particular interest in the history of reception of the Bible.

Review from previous edition 

"clear and lively . . . a distinguished addition to the series" - Christopher Rowland, University of Oxford

"Very Short John Riches' book may be, but it is not simple - nor could it be. It is a masterly reduction, without minimizing the problems: indeed, it exposes them as they need to be exposed." - Canon Eric James

"John Riches makes the Bible's strong vitality abundantly apparent" - Tom Butler, Bishop of Southwark

"John Riches reminds us that one of the most read books in the world - the Bible - is now most widely read in unfamiliar places - South Africa, Zimbabwe, Botswana, the Philippines, and Peru - by poor and marginalized people." - Gerald West, University of Natal

"This lively book will be read with profit and delight by a wide range of readers. The author's many examples of the ways the Bible has been used and misused in different parts of the world make fascinating, and sometimes disturbing reading." - Graham Stanton, King's College, London

Product details

ISBN : 9780198863335

John Riches
184 Pages
111 x 174 mm
Pub date
Oct 2021
Very Short Introductions
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The Bible: A Very Short Introduction (2nd edition) [#014]

The Bible: A Very Short Introduction (2nd edition) [#014]

The Bible: A Very Short Introduction (2nd edition) [#014]