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on 27 January 2012
I would really recommend this book to anyone wanting a to-the-point introduction to the Bible. I am new to the faith and wanted to know more about the context of the Bible: which books were written when? With what parameters can one read the Bible (e.g. can one apply techniques as one would to a fictional book in terms of textual analysis)? Who decided which books would be included and why were some excluded? Some 'Very Short Introductions' are very hard going: too many ideas and in highly academic language which assumes a lot of foreknowledge. This book explains its terms, is written in an educated but accessible style and doesn't overwhelm its reader. I borrowed this book from my local library, but after reading it decided to buy my own copy because it is a book I know I will return to many times.
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on 11 May 2002
I bought this book to help me decide whether to study A Level Rel Studies - it is surprisingly lively and quirky, covering such topics as The Bible and Politics, The Bible and its Critics and The Bible in High and Popular Culture - it left me impressed by its reduction of vast areas and concise, complex expression. It certainly is a good place to start if you dont know what to read first, or what to think - it makes you question preconceptions- and buy more books, sadly!.
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on 18 November 2014
I hardly expected this work to be a conservative exposition of what the Bible is, but I was also left surprised at the brief comment on orthodox Christian understanding of what the Bible is. At several points, I found myself surprised by Riches' over-genearlisations about the Christian world, while at the same time stressing the deep divide between denominations. I was, for example, shocked at his suggestions that ministers will attempt to interpret scripture in accordance with modern-day social norms. This may be the way of liberal vicars, but this is hardly the stuff of the shepherds which pastor most Christian flocks in the world: sincere ministry is concerned with an exposition of what God is saying through the scriptures. To mold this for people's 'itching ears' is deplorable, and yet Riches seems to commend the practice. There are all sorts of good things to say about a number of chapters in the book: his chapter on the Bible and the arts, for example, was a worthwhile read. I just wished that, even as an objective academic author, he had spent more time observing that many Christians believe the Bible to be God's divinely inspired word, and that this means treating it not like any other book or historical document.
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on 28 September 2005
...but too overwhelmed with the importance of the Book, with not enough attention given to critical and historical studies and debates. I'd recommend Richard Friedman or Tim Callahan over this, even for starters.
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on 29 July 2010
This book is supposed to present an impartial overview of the Bible, but it miserably fails.
The author promotes higher criticism as the only acceptable method of interpreting the Scriptures; he does't seem to be bothered by the fact that there are half a billion Evangelicals busy preaching biblical inerrancy around the world.
Moreover, the author took great pains to describe all the atrocities that were committed in the name of the Bible in the post colonial world, but it does not tell his readers that Scriptures inspired great people like William Wilberforce and Martin Luther King, to name but a few, to do incredible humanitarian deeds that changed the world for the better.
Also, it should be noted that the evil deeds described in the book were done in disobedience to the Bible, while the greatest accomplishments in the history of human rights were done in obedience to it.
To conclude, my impression was that the author's intent was to denigrate the Bible, rather than present it objectively.
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on 16 July 2009
After recently going to an Alpha course i wanted to try to digest another volume in a condensed version. It was slightly heavy going and i was foolish to think something so small would make sense of something so big. Nicely written and something i will keep to try again a little later in life.
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