Friday, November 10, 2006
My New Bible: The Harper Collins Study Bible
Being in academia has its perks. For instance, from time to time I receive complimentary examination copies of textbooks. Last week I received a complimentary edition of the new fully revised and updated Harper Collins Study Bible (NRSV). I have to say that I very much enjoy the experience of getting to know the landscape of a new Bible, and a relatively new translation for me at that. (My all-time favorite translation is the RSV.) And while I am not a great fan of "Study Bibles," this one contains the most balanced biblical scholarship I have yet come across in a Study Bible. I am very much considering requiring this as a text for the next class I teach in Hermeneutics. (I guess that's why publishers send complimentary copies to academes!) What follows below is an excerpt from one of the articles front-loaded to this edition, called, "Strategies for Reading Scripture" by John Barton.
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"A CANONICAL APPROACH TO READING SCRIPTURE is essentially the way most Christians usually understand the task if they are not involved in technical biblical study, but in recent years it has also been promoted by an influential movement within biblical scholarship. It begins from the conviction that the Bible is the Word of God to the church and that the meanings to be found in it flow from this. The scriptures, it is believed, are not simply a collection of ancient books that happen to have come together to form a corpus, but a carefully selected range of works in which the church has encountered a communication from God. This is very obviously true of the writings of the NT, which are the primary witness to the events of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth and the beginnings of the Christian church, which revered him as its founder; these include the very early testimony of the apostles, above all perhaps of the apostle Paul. It is also true of the OT, in which the God whom Jesus worshipped is encountered throughout the history of ancient Israel, witnessed to by the prophets, priests, and sages, and described by historians and psalmists. In these works the word of life is to be found, and reading them is thus not at all the same kind of experience as reading any other books, not even other religious texts. It calls for a particular mental attitude and for a number of presuppositions about what will be found in the text."