Bible Babel: Making Sense of the Most Talked About Book of All Time

Bible Babel: Making Sense of the Most Talked About Book of All Time

by Kristin Swenson


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Why does the film Magnolia end in a downpour of frogs?

Is the serpent in the Garden of Eden the devil or just a snake?

How do people use the Bible to argue different sides of today's most controversial issues?

Why did Metallica's bass player name their song “Creeping Death” after watching The Ten Commandments?

Where does the fish symbol of the Christian faith come from?

Who is the lamb with seven horns and seven eyes who opens the seven seals of a cosmic scroll?

Without either promoting or undermining specific beliefs, religious studies professor Kristin Swenson offers an intelligent, humorous, highly accessible, engaging, and illuminating guide to the Bible—incorporating biblical scholarship with contemporary pop culture references to help readers better understand the most talked about book of all time.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780061728266
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 03/15/2011
Pages: 368
Sales rank: 614,917
Product dimensions: 5.20(w) x 7.90(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Kristin Swenson teaches religious studies at Virginia Commonwealth University. Her books include Living Through Pain: Psalms and the Search for Wholeness and What Is Religious Studies?.

Table of Contents

Map of the Ancient Near East, with Israel xiii

Introduction xv

1 What Is the Bible, Anyway? 1

2 Different Bibles and a Hidden Bible, Too 11

3 As It Is Written: History in the Bible 22

4 Contexts and Culture: History behind the Bible 31

5 Getting to the Good Book: History of the Bible 42

6 What's the Best Translation? 53

7 We've Got Issues 75

8 Quotes and Misquotes 99

9 Men, Famous and Infamous 128

10 Lovely (and Not So) Ladies 161

11 Flora, Fauna, Etcetera 187

12 Sites to Be Seen 217

13 God Names, Beings, and Doings 247

Conclusion 269


Appendix 1 Order of Books in the Hebrew Bible and in the Old Testament 272

Appendix 2 Order of Books in the New Testament 274

Appendix 3 Timeline of Some History in and behind the Bible 275

Appendix 4 A Tentative Chronology of Hebrew Bible Writings 276

Appendix 5 Major Events in New Testament History 278

Appendix 6 Abraham's Family Tree (Genesis) 280

Appendix 7 Abbreviations for Biblical Books 282

Resources for More Information 283

Notes 286

Index 325

What People are Saying About This

Michael Dirda

“Wide-ranging, objectively factual and written for the common reader. . . . Swenson’s book possesses a singularly breezy tone, a kind of “Jesus Christ Superstar” approach to the sacred. . . . A solid, readable work that doesn’t shy away from the tough issues.”

Stephen Prothero

“Finally, a book on the Bible for the rest of us! . . . This broadside against our collective biblical illiteracy hits the sweetspot between blind belief and angry atheism. Who said a book on the Good Book can’t be brave, smart, and fun?”

Robert Alter

“Bible Babel is a breath of fresh air. . . . Kristin Swenson’s writing is brisk and lively. She has an informed sense of everything relevant to the Bible. . . . She is an engaging corrector of misconceptions and a helpful guide to the common reader.”

Walter Brueggemann

“Kristin Swenson offers a confident, well-paced, well-informed, and accessible guide to Bible basics and biblical literacy. The reader may expect some surprises, some confirmation of hunches, and some challenges—exactly what ought to arise from serious, sustained treatment.”

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