Bookish for life

Anthropology graduate, anglophile, social justice activist, chocoholic, traveler and book lover from the German-speaking part of Switzerland, currently working in the renewable energy sector. Books have been my passion since before I could read.

 

Considering using this as a replacement for my Goodreads account, where I've been keeping track of what I read (audiobooks included). You can find a record of the dead-tree books I own on LibraryThing. As of now I haven't imported those yet.

A mirror of a fallen man

The Unauthorized Version: Truth and Fiction in the Bible - Robin Lane Fox

That's what Robin Lane Fox calls the Bible, whose mix of facts and fiction he traces in this densely written book, which he describes as "a historian's view of the Bible".

 

Covering everything from Genesis to Revelations, he makes it clear where the various authors get their history wrong (almost all of the time), but, despite being an atheist himself, he also stresses their goals and motivations in writing (and editing) the texts that comprise the Bible. He also goes further, highlighting that for centuries, even millennia, there was no such thing as a biblical canon, a fixed set of texts used by both Jews and Christians.

 

As a Christian myself, I found Fox' work fascinating - even when explaining where the Bible and history clash (always mentioning the room for error due to the very limited written and archeological sources) and how certain explicit contradictions came to be (for example the opposing stories of how David ended up at King Saul's court), he always remains respectful, both to the material and to the religions based on it. Especially interesting to me was his opinion that the Gospel of John is based on the eye-witness testimony of the "beloved disciple" (with the exception of the last chapter, which was added later).

 

There is also a detailed bibliography for those that want to delve deeper into the scholarship behind the Bible, which is something I always look for in non-fiction works, because nothing infuriates the former student in me more than unsourced statements.

 

Overall, the book was neither easy nor quick to read, and it presents so much information that I fear I've already forgotten most of them. But for anyone interested in "Truth and Fiction in the Bible" (as the book's subtitle states), who can separate Faith and Fact, this is definitely recommended.