Tuesday, 29 April 2014

How the Bible Became Holy

This is just a brief 'heads-up' about a new book - released earlier this month - from Yale University Press, and available in both hardback and Kindle editions.

Michael Satlow is Professor of Religious Studies and Judaic Studies at Brown University, with a PhD in Ancient Judaism from Jewish Theological Seminary. In "How the Bible Became Holy" he systematically sweeps aside much of the pious nonsense about the origins of the Bible. "Drawing on cutting-edge historical and archaeological research, he traces the story of how, when, and why Jews and Christians gradually granted authority to texts that had long lay dormant in a dusty temple archive. The Bible, Satlow maintains, was not the consecrated book it is now until quite late in its history."

A few quotes from the Introduction and first chapter.
I will argue here that Jews and Christians gave to the texts that constitute our Bible only very limited and specific kinds of authority until well into the third century CE and beyond. The "peoples of the book" did not know their book very well. (p.3, emphasis in original).
[F]or most Jews and Christians in antiquity the Bible had very little normative authority. Until the first century CE, most Jews, particularly in the land of Israel, had only a very fuzzy knowledge of scripture and certainly would not have turned to it for practical guidance. (p.4)
Jesus himself, growing up in Galilee, had very limited knowledge of scripture. (p.6)
The problem with using the Bible as a historical source is that it isn't one. (p.6)
[T]he picture of Israel that continues to emerge is very different than the one found in the Bible. (p.15)
There'll probably be more to say as I progress through the book, but this is one volume that deserves wide exposure. While many bloggers are focussed on Bart Ehrman's newest book, it would be a shame to see this one slip under the radar.

Here's the Amazon link:
How the Bible Became Holy

1 comment:

  1. It sounds really interesting, though from the brief description and extracts here, unless he dates most of the NT to the 3rdC the frequent references like "it is written" etc. might seem to weaken the argument?