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For many people, the Bible lies at the heart of their faith, an ageless source of inspiration and guidance. On the other side of the spectrum, trained biblical scholars study the Bible using a variety of modern historical and literary approaches. But there is a wide gap between these two groups of readers, a gap that brings negative consequences for both. Without an awareness of historical context, ordinary readers easily slip into a literal interpretation, while scholars sometimes overlook the deeply personal significance the Bible has for people in churches, synagogues, and Bible study groups.
In How to Read the Bible, renowned Harvard Divinity School professor Harvey Cox shows how these different ways of approaching the Bible can be reconciled to the enrichment of all. By discussing a range of biblical books from Genesis to Revelation, he demonstrates how the historical analysis of the Bible, rather than undercutting its spiritual significance, can enhance and deepen it. Drawing on some of the commonly used modes of biblical scholarship, such as archaeology, cultural studies, and literary criticism, Cox opens up a rich, diverse, and contemporary version of scripture, one that wrestles with issues of feminism, war, homosexuality, and race. The result is a Bible that is a timeless but contemporary resource for all.