A History of the Bible: The Book and Its Faiths by John Barton - review by Richard Harries

Richard Harries

Going off Scripture

A History of the Bible: The Book and Its Faiths


Allen Lane 613pp £25 order from our bookshop

The Bible is the central book of Western culture. It has deeply influenced our literature, music and art, as well as our history and institutions. Every year Oxford University Press sells a quarter of a million copies of the Authorised Version alone. Yet most people in the UK now probably find it a strange and difficult book, one that sometimes suggests what is morally outrageous. At the same time, it retains a controlling influence in evangelical churches and is a continuing source of spiritual nourishment for all Christians. How might an intelligent and open-minded person understand it today? John Barton is a sure-footed guide in seeking to answer that question.

Barton’s book is called A History of the Bible, but it could easily have been entitled ‘A Guide to the Bible’, for not only does he give us a history of how the variety of books within it came to be written, put together and accepted as canonical,

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