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.
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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
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
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
What People are Saying About This
“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.”
“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?”
“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.”
“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.”