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The New Cambridge History of the Bible
  • Volume 4: From 1750 to the Present
  • Edited by John Riches, University of Glasgow
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Book description

This volume examines the Bible's role in the modern world - beginning with a treatment of its production and distribution that discusses publishers, printers, text critics, and translators and continuing with a presentation of new methods of studying the text that have emerged, including historical, literary, social-scientific, feminist, postcolonial, liberal, and fundamentalist readings. There is a full discussion of the changes in understandings of and approaches to the Bible in various faith communities. The dissemination of the Bible throughout the globe has also produced a host of new interpretations, and this volume provides a comprehensive geographical survey of its reception. In the final chapters, the authors offer a thematic overview of the Bible in relation to literature, art, film, science, and other disciplines. They demonstrate that, in spite of challenges to the Bible's authority in western Europe, it remains highly relevant and influential, not least in the Americas, Africa, and Asia.

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Contents


Page 1 of 2


  • 7 - Social-scientific readings of the Bible
    pp 160-171
  • View abstract

    Summary

    A history of critical editions of the Greek New Testament and the methods developed to create them coincide with virtually the entire history of New Testament textual criticism. Thereby, Karl Konrad Friedrich Wilhelm Lachmann's Greek text became the first to be recognised as a decisive break from the textus receptus, which in some form stood at the head of the pages in virtually all preceding editions. This chapter explores Lachmann's text-critical criteria in systematic fashion. A new tool, the Coherence-Based Genealogical Method, developed by Gerd Mink in Münster, is currently being refined for assessing relationships among the texts in all of extant New Testament manuscripts by a highly sophisticated computer program that, by employing the present array of external and internal criteria, constructs a local stemma for each place of variation. Reasoned Eclecticism has a history that began with the first discussions of canons of criticism, accompanied by refinements along the way.
  • 8 - Reception history of the Bible
    pp 172-183
  • View abstract

    Summary

    From the mid-eighteenth to the late nineteenth centuries the chronology of production and distribution of the Bible, especially in popular editions, combines two narratives. The first traces a remarkable story of technological development in the printing and related industries, while the second follows the growth of cultural infrastructures that supported evangelical enthusiasm. Once printed, bibles had to be distributed. In the decades before the introduction of bible societies, religious authorities undertook this task directly. Within the Roman Catholic communion, distribution was generally limited to those copies required by members of the clergy. The laws and structure of the new organisation, called the British and Foreign Bible Society (BFBS), responded to the social and religious tensions within English society. American Bible Society (ABS) incursions were facilitated by an 1860 agreement permitting either society to print editions financed by the other, provided that no changes were made to the text.
  • 9 - The uses of the Bible in theology
    pp 184-196
  • View abstract

    Summary

    The reception of the Bible in the vernacular sidestepped the controversies that accompanied the circulation of the Bible in early modern Europe. However, unwittingly, it produced the movements of indigenisation and liberation. The stimulus of indigenous theology was often a corollary and consequence of the creation of the vernacular Bible, with the work of field inquiry opening the door to indigenous inquiry and reflection. Bible translation evoked and reinforced the religious substratum of traditional society, with biblical stories opening the way for the recovery of local narrative traditions. With the impetus of the Bible Society of Java, which was founded in 1816, Portuguese gave way to Malay in Bible translation. The religious motive of the missionary vocation often encouraged missionaries to try to produce translations of enduring value. The message of the Bible ended the isolation of tribe and language, slowed the process of neglect and indifference, and allowed translators use obscure languages to produce a simple communication system.
  • 11 - Liberal readings of the Bible and their conservative responses
    pp 208-219
  • View abstract

    Summary

    The History of Religions School is the name adopted by a small group of friends who were students, then untenured instructors in the theological faculty of the University of Göttingen beginning around 1890. The school's preoccupation with theology and their rejection of the way theology was done around them had a quite particular focus. They had come to Göttingen to study with Albrecht Ritschl, the doyen of liberal theology. The identification and description of those religious movements constituted one of the most creative, influential, but ultimately most problematic of the contributions which the History of Religions School made to modern scholarship. Even scholars who reject most of the findings and much of the method of the History of Religions School agree that the understanding of biblical religion can never be the same as it was before their work, which can only be replaced by better history.
  • 12 - The use of the Bible in dialectical theology
    pp 220-232
  • View abstract

    Summary

    The rise of biblical archaeology, which came to dominate and control the archaeological investigation of Palestine, demonstrates how closely intertwined the study of the Bible and archaeology had become. European expansion opened up Palestine to much more extensive archaeological exploration. The European powers that were competing to control the land for strategic reasons were also competing to own and control its past. Political and economic power alone is never sufficient to maintain imperial adventures, cultural power is also required. Palestine's strategic importance to Britain in the struggle with France for control of the region was a crucial factor in the founding of the Palestine Exploration Fund in 1865. The period from 1920s onwards is often referred to as the golden age of biblical archaeology, a time when many of the major sites were excavated and many of the great figures of archaeology and biblical studies shaped their disciplines.
  • 13 - Existential(ist) interpretation of the New Testament
    pp 233-248
  • View abstract

    Summary

    Scholars reserve the term 'literary criticism' for approaches influenced by contemporary literary criticism as taught under the banner of Comparative Literature or of a single language such as English or Spanish. Source, form and redaction criticism are historical rather than literary approaches. This chapter examines how these criticisms view author, text and audience. It also focuses on narratives, and traces a move from the dominance of German to Anglophone scholarship and beyond. Source criticism presented and presents a challenge to Jews and Christians holding Mosaic authorship to be critical to Torah's divine inspiration and authority as well as to literary unity grounded in that authorship. Classic form criticism views many biblical texts as the products of oral tradition in which small units circulated. Redaction criticism focuses on the editing. In the Hebrew Bible studies this often falls under the rubric of tradition history. In New Testament studies, the literary turn gave birth to narrative criticism.
  • 14 - Liberationist readings of the Bible
    pp 249-260
  • View abstract

    Summary

    Some biblical scholars realised that to understand the historical, political and social background of the Vietnam War and found them in the social sciences. The works of this group were among the seminal studies for social-scientific readings of the Bible. Norman Gottwald used sociological and social-anthropological theory to argue that ancient Israel was not established by external immigration, but by social conflicts within Canaanite society. Initially social-science readings primarily employed theories and models from sociology and social anthropology. The focus on foreignness made social anthropology more relevant than sociology based on studies of modern societies. The emphasis on the foreignness of the biblical texts represents a contrast to the hermeneutics of Rudolf Bultmann, who saw the similarities in understanding of life between the New Testament and its modern readers. One of the strongest criticisms of social-science approaches as they have been practised by male scholars has come from feminist perspectives.
  • 15 - Feminist readings of the Bible
    pp 261-272
  • View abstract

    Summary

    This chapter explores some distinctive characteristics and interests of Bible's reception history. It discusses the relationship between reception history and Wirkungsgeschichte. Reception history focuses on the reader or interpreter, how they receive the text in their particular historical and cultural setting. It is possible to distinguish between reception historians who conduct their work within particular theological and ecclesial traditions, those who treat the study of a book's reception as a means to a better understanding of its original meaning, and others who want to keep the parameters and potential for meanings as broad as possible. Theological openness to the key exegetical traditions of Judaism and Christianity and their classic exegetes, represents one major strand within reception history. The Blackwell Companion to the Bible and Culture, edited by John Sawyer, is indicative of the wide potential of another strand in reception history. A visit to a Gothic cathedral can be an exercise in reception history.
  • 16 - Post-colonial readings of the Bible
    pp 273-284
  • View abstract

    Summary

    This chapter examines the use of the Bible from the perspective of the relatively recent revival of interest in pre-modern biblical interpretation. Without ignoring the great variety of views and uses of Scripture by pre-modern theologians, recent scholarship has identified several characteristic hermeneutical conventions, each one of which has been contested, or has simply withered away in the modern era. Hermeneutical consensus dissolves in the modern era, with profound consequences for Christian theological interpretation of the Bible. The Bible was a textbook, propounding ideas about God's nature and that were vouchsafed by God to its authors so that what they taught, God taught. Scholars pursuing biblical criticism's diachronic forms often share certain presuppositions with those whose work has been described thus far. Whether they are employing the critical methods to encourage or to undermine Christian devotion to God, diachronic critics assume that biblical meanings are referential and univocal.
  • 17 - Jewish readings of the Bible
    pp 285-313
  • View abstract

    Summary

    It is widely assumed that Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel was an idealist, indeed, the pre-eminent philosopher of idealism. Hegel insisted, however, that idealism is not to be understood as the antithesis of realism; rather, it overreaches and embraces realism. Hegel's distinction between representation (Vorstellung) and concept (Begrif) and his way of connecting them, has played a fateful role in the history of idealist interpretations of the Bible. Hegel knew that ultimately only faith can see that God is present in Christ. The two principal disciples of Hegel in biblical studies were David Friedrich Strauss and Ferdinand Christian Baur. Strauss severed Hegel's mediation of the real and the ideal, Vorstellung and Begrif, whereas Baur re-established it on a critical basis. The chapter focuses on Christology because it is what connects the three thinkers in their interpretations of the Bible. As far as Jesus' divinity is concerned, Baur interpreted it in Hegelian fashion, but with an interesting variation.
  • 18 - The Bible in philosophy and hermeneutics
    pp 314-327
  • View abstract

    Summary

    This chapter addresses the institutional context of the study of the Bible both in the university and the church. It focuses on nineteenth-century Germany, where theological problems were discussed most keenly, and offers comparisons with the development of theology and biblical studies in both England and the United States. The dichotomy between liberal and conservative makes sense only in relation to this more general problem of authority, which was at the heart of the massive cultural and intellectual revolutions and reactions through the nineteenth century. In the nineteenth century, many German theologians sought different solutions to the problem of history which rested less on direct experience and more on a distinctive kind of knowledge. Scholars such as the Swiss-born Philip Schaf, helped professionalise American biblical studies, establishing it outside its traditional home in conservative denominational institutions. The socio-historical method sought to carry out sociological investigations of the biblical texts as products of their environment.

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