12 of 16 people found the following review helpful
A perspective on the Bible as history,
This review is from: The Unauthorized Version: Truth and Fiction in the Bible (Paperback)
The Unauthorized Version: Truth and fiction in the Bible by Robin Lane Fox, Penguin, 2006, 480 ff.
Here we have a book that is learned but never pedantic, written by a history scholar at Oxford University, and which deals with a controversial subject in an even-handed way. The book supports the common view of the Bible as historical fiction - a collection of tales gathered together from tribal story-telling over hundreds of years amongst the people of the Middle East two thousand and more years ago.
The author points out that these texts were first written down and necessarily interpreted by scribes, then translated, with further interpretation. To ascribe literal truth to any such text is therefore untenable. Lane Fox says in his Preface that there are Jewish and Christian scholars whose view of the Bible is far more radical than his own. For example, `It would be naïve in the extreme to take the narrative of Kings as a true or comprehensive history' he says of the Old Testament, and in the New Testament he claims that the fourth Gospel of John is held by scholars to be `almost entirely . . . unhistorical'.
This accords with the majority view of biblical text; but this does not undermine its value as literature and as historical myth, appropriate for the time and place where it was written after many decades or centuries of oral transmission.
This book is authoritative and highly readable. There are more than fifty pages of Notes and References of sources for those who feel the presentation might be prejudiced by the author's self-confessed atheism. Rather, this conveys a much-needed impartiality to the assessment. There is also an excellent and detailed Index.
Dr Howard A. Jones is the author of The Thoughtful Guide to God (2006) and The Tao of Holism (2008), both published by O Books of Winchester, UK.