Modern western critical study of the Bible has radically altered the fabric of Christian belief. This book explains what interpretation is and what special issues arise in biblical interpretation. The authors analyze the development of traditional literary and historical criticism and more recent social, scientific, and literary approaches, focusing on the key figures from Reimarus to Gerd Theissen, and exposing the underlying theological issues. What emerges is a pattern in the relationship between religious interests in the texts and the rational methods used to interpret them, providing guidance for a theologically sensitive use of the Bible today. The book includes an annotated index with detailed information on over 250 biblical scholars and other interpreters.