Are All Critical Biblical Scholars Godless Atheists Conspiring to Undermine Your Faith?

Are All Critical Biblical Scholars Godless Atheists Conspiring to Undermine Your Faith? August 31, 2012

Glad you asked.

I say no, as do Marc Brettler (Brandeis University) and Dan Harrington (Boston College). Together we wrote a book that looks at how faith and critical biblical scholarship can co-exist. The Bible and the Believer: How to Read the Bible Critically and Religiously. It can now be ordered on Amazon

This book originated in a symposium sponsored by the Jewish Studies Program at the University of Pennsylvania on October 25, 2010. The topic was “The Challenge of Reading the Bible Today: Can the Bible Be Read Both Critically and Religiously? Jewish, Catholic, and Protestant Perspectives.”  Professors Jeffrey Tigay and Beth Wenger invited Marc Brettler, Harrington, and your’s truly to share how we look at this issue from the perspectives of our faith traditions.

(I had a tough assignment. YOU try explaining to a non-Protestant audience what “Protestants” think about anything, let alone the Bible and biblical criticism.)

Marc Brettler

The audience, several hundred students and community members, asked probing questions, which convinced us that our topic was worthy of publication. Over dinner we decided to do just that.

Each of us wrote an essay and we all responded to each other’s essays in dialogue rather than critique-mode. We had a great time working together on the book and we learned much from each other. For me, it was a distinct pleasure to work with such respected, prolific, thoughtful, and seasoned scholars as Brettler and Harrington.

Daniel Harrington

Here is the table of contents.

Preface vii

Introduction: The Historical-Critical Reading of the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament 3

1. My Bible: A Jew’s Perspective—Marc Zvi Brettler 21

Response by Daniel J. Harrington, S.J. 66

Response by Peter Enns 72

2. Reading the Bible Critically and Religiously: Catholic Perspectives,—Daniel J. Harrington, S.J. 8

Response by Peter Enns 113

Response by Marc Zvi Brettler 118

3. Protestantism and Biblical Criticism: One Perspective on a Difficult Dialogue—Peter Enns 126

Response by Marc Zvi Brettler 161

Response by Daniel J. Harrington, S.J. 166

Postscript 174

Notes 177

Glossary 195

Index 201

My plan over the next few weeks is to post brief synopses of each of the chapters.

Brettler’s works include How to Read the Bible and The Creation of History in Ancient Israel. He edited The Jewish Annotated New Testament (with Amy Jill-Levine) and The Jewish Study Bible: featuring The Jewish Publication Society TANAKH Translation (with Adele Berlin and Michael Fishbane).

Harrington is author and editor of countless publications, including editor of New Testament Abstracts since 1972 and the eighteen-volume Sacra Pagina series of New Testament Commentaries, Jesus: A Historical Portrait and Invitation to the Apocrypha.


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