A Most Peculiar Book: The Inherent Strangeness of the Bible

A Most Peculiar Book: The Inherent Strangeness of the Bible

by Kristin Swenson

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Overview

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Scholars know the Bible to be messy and contradictory, written by many authors and possessing of multiple viewpoints. Kristin Swenson capably leads us through the complicated but amazing Bible we think we know.

The Bible, we are constantly reminded, is the best-selling book of all time. It is read with intense devotion by hundreds of millions of people, stands as authoritative for Judaism and Christianity, and informs and affects the politics and lives of the religious and non-religious around the world. But how well do we really know it? The Bible is so familiar, so ubiquitous that we have begun to take our knowledge of it for granted. The Bible many of us think we know is a pale imitation of the real thing.

In A Most Peculiar Book, Kristin Swenson addresses the dirty little secret of biblical studies — that the Bible is a weird book. It is full of surprises and contradictions, unexplained impossibilities, intriguing supernatural creatures, and heroes doing horrible deeds. It does not provide a simple worldview: what "the Bible says" on a given topic is multi-faceted, sometimes even contradictory. Yet, Swenson argues, we have a tendency to reduce the complexities of the Bible to aphorisms, bumper stickers, and slogans. Swenson helps readers look at the text with fresh eyes. A collection of ancient stories and poetry written by multiple authors, held together by the tenuous string of tradition, the Bible often undermines our modern assumptions. And is all the more marvelous and powerful for it.

Rather than dismiss the Bible as an outlandish or irrelevant relic of antiquity, Swenson leans into the messiness full-throttle. Making ample room for discomfort, wonder, and weirdness, A Most Peculiar Book guides readers through a Bible that will feel, to many, brand new.


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780190651732
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Publication date: 02/01/2021
Pages: 288
Sales rank: 170,171
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.10(h) x 1.20(d)

About the Author

Kristin Swenson is Associate Professor of Religious at Virginia Commonwealth University. She is the author of Bible Babel: Making Sense of the Most Talked About Book of All Time and Living through Pain: Psalms and the Search for Wholeness.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments

Introduction

Chapter 1 - A Problematic Book

Chapter 2 - God

Chapter 3 - Angels, Demons, and a Talking Ass

Chapter 4 - Good People Behaving Badly

Chapter 5 - Impossibilities, Normalized

Chapter 6 - Misconception, Misapprehensions

Chapter 7 - And General Befuddlements

Chapter 8 - Arguments Behind Closed Doors

Chapter 9 - Biblical (Im)morality

Chapter 10 - But in the Original...

Chapter 11 - The Perennial Bestseller

Chapter 12 - Ten Commandments for [Best Word Here] the Bible

In Conclusion, Sola Scriputra

Notes

Index

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