"An introductory survey of biblical scholarship, [Understanding the Bible] says that you don't have to believe in the supernatural to appreciate the wisdom of the Bible." — Rich Barlow, Boston Globe This warm, straightforward guide invites readers to rediscover our culture's central religious and spiritual text and makes accessible some of the best contemporary historical, literary, political, and feminist readings of the Hebrew and Christian scriptures. "[Buehrens] demonstrates that it is both intellectually respectable and politically savvy to know your Bible well." —Joyce Smothers, Library Journal "Forsaking the Bible means forsaking the best-selling book of all time . . . It is difficult to understand much of Western literature and culture without knowing Scripture . . . [Buehrens's] book is a readable, salient introduction to biblical study and history." —Religion News Service
A thoughtful, warm, and witty introduction "Understanding the Bible" is designed to help empower skeptics, seekers, nonbelievers, and those of a liberal and progressive outlook to reclaim the Bible from literalists. In making accessible some of the best contemporary historical, literary, political, and feminist readings of the Hebrew and Christian scriptures, it encourages all who would find in the biblical heritage an ally and not an enemy in the quest for a more just and humane world. Brief and to the point, it can easily be used to stimulate group discussions and personal reading of the biblical texts themselves, and is an excellent introduction to the Judeo-Christian tradition for those of other faiths. "Understanding the Bible" includes four preliminary chapters on the why, who, which, and how of biblical understanding, followed by eight brief thematic chapters covering the core of the Hebrew Bible and six covering the Christian scriptures, plus chronologies, maps, and helpful suggestions for further reading.
John A. Buehrens is president of the Unitarian Universalist Association; he lives in Boston. Forrest Church, senior minister of the Unitarian Church of All Souls in New York City, is author of Life Lines: Holding On (and Letting Go) (0-8070-2723-5 / $11.00).
'Biblical literacy is not just for Biblical literalists. To grasp the nuances of Western art and literature or the religious subtext of Western law and society requires a working knowledge of the Hebrew and Christian scriptures. Yet, to the uninitiated, the Bible is daunting. One opens its pages only to get lost in its maze. John Buehrens has performed a great service for the many religious liberals and seekers who would explore the Bible if only they could find a trusted guide. Addressed to thoughtful skeptics who know enough to be skeptical of their own ignorance, Understanding the Bible is an accessible, unpretentious introduction to the most influential writings of all time.' --Forrest Church, author of The American Creed and Lifecraft: The Art of Meaning in the Everyday 'Understanding the Bible is a thoughtful and honest introduction to the tragedy, compassion, mercy, justice, grief, and ecstasy that we share with the tellers of biblical stories and with the stories themselves. Read Buehren's enlightening as well as entertaining work and you almost certainly will find yourself learning, thinking, and laughing as you reach for a copy of the Bible to read it again or for the first time.' --C. Welton Gaddy, President, The Interfaith Alliance
'Spiritual seekers of a liberal persuasion have too often dismissed the Bible, perhaps because of unhappy childhood experiences with literal interpretations. The Bible is neither history nor science, but rather stories of human struggle and divine presence throughout that struggle. John Buehrens engages us in the powerful stories of the Judeo Christian scripture, returning to us a rich heritage without which we would be both culturally and spiritually impoverished.' --Marilyn Sewell, editor of Cries of the Spirit
'If with Saint Augustine, you 'believe in thinking and wish to think in believing, ' John Buehrens' book is for you. He spells out clearly the historic importance and textual complexities of the Bible, which then enables you to stand face to face, soul to soul, with blazing biblical insights sorely needed in these dark days.' --William Sloane Coffin, author of A Passion for the Possible