The Rise and Fall of the Bible
The Unexpected History of an Accidental Book
By Timothy Beal
(Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Hardcover, 9780151013586, 256pp.)
Publication Date: February 1, 2011
List Price: $25.00*
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In this revelatory exploration of one of our most revered icons, a critically acclaimed author and professor takes us back to early Christianity to ask how a box of handwritten scrolls became the Bible, and forward to see how the multibillion-dollar business that has brought us Biblezines and Manga Bibles is selling down the Bible’s sacred capital. Showing us how a single official text was created from the proliferation of different scripts, Beal traces its path as it became embraced as the word of God and Book of books. Among his surprising insights:
• Christianity thrived for centuries without any Bible—there was no official canon of scriptures, much less a book big enough to hold them all. Congregations used various collections of scrolls and codices.
• There is no “original” Bible, no single source text behind the thousands of different Bibles on the market today. The farther we go back in the Bible’s history, the more versions we find.
• The idea of the Bible as the literal Word of God is relatively new—only about a century old.
TIMOTHY BEAL is Florence Harkness Professor of Religion at Case Western Reserve University. He has published eleven books, including Biblical Literacy: The Essential Bible Stories Everyone Needs to Know and Roadside Religion: In Search of the Sacred, the Strange, and the Substance of Faith, a New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice and one of Publishers Weekly’s ten best religion books of 2005. He has published essays in the New York Times, the Washington Post, and the Chronicle of Higher Education.