Q. Whose Bible Is It? A. Whose Isn't It? ; Today, as in the Long-Ago Past,the Scriptures May Divide but, in a Wider Sense, They Conquer

By Lampman, Jane | The Christian Science Monitor, May 31, 2005 | Go to article overview

Q. Whose Bible Is It? A. Whose Isn't It? ; Today, as in the Long-Ago Past,the Scriptures May Divide but, in a Wider Sense, They Conquer


Lampman, Jane, The Christian Science Monitor


The news is brimming with religion. People of faith are taking strong stands on both sides of political issues. Jewish settlers are proclaiming a divine right to hold onto land. Evangelicals travel to tsunami-devastated corners of the world offering their faith as the answer for life's tribulations.

At the heart of these manifestations are people's encounters with Holy Scriptures - and their differing interpretations of what the sacred texts mean.

Over the millennia, both Jewish and Christian communities have been shaped and reshaped by translations and reinterpretations of biblical writings.

In "Whose Bible Is It?," distinguished religious historian Jaroslav Pelikan of Yale University offers a masterly overview of this complex development of the Bible over the ages. From its beginnings in the spoken word and oral tradition, through the gathering of written books into canons, to the influence of changing interpretive methods, Pelikan weaves a tapestry of the power of the Word to mold religious communities, nations, and culture.

This engaging, concise, and highly readable work demonstrates that the most influential book in Western civilization has always held different meanings for different peoples. Yet it represents fundamentally a "testimony of faith in the action of God."

Research has brought into question the historical basis of some narratives, but the meaning of those stories, Pelikan says, continues to resonate with people of various cultures in deep and convincing ways. (While fewer Americans are now familiar with the Bible - surveys show an astonishing ignorance of basics - millions around the world are reading it in some 450 languages.)

In describing the evolution of various translations, Pelikan clarifies how the scriptures have both unified religious groups and divided them from one another - Jew from Christian, Catholic from Eastern Orthodox, Protestant from Catholic, Protestant from Protestant.

"The history of Jewish-Christian relations, and then the history of the division within Christendom, is at one level the history of biblical interpretation," he says. This remains true today as the deepest split in Christianity is not between denominations but across denominations over perceptions of the Bible.

In Judaism, the written scriptures are called the Tanakh, and include the Torah (the Pentateuch), the prophets, and other writings (Psalms, Proverbs, etc.).

The canon was fixed in the first century CE. Yet Jews living in Egypt had earlier translated the Hebrew scriptures into Greek, making them a part of world literature.

It was this Greek translation (the Septuagint) that became the Old Testament of the Christian Bible, with Christians appropriating the Jewish scriptures as their own. Viewing Christianity as the fulfillment of biblical promise, and emphasizing an allegorical interpretation, they found references to Jesus where Jews saw other meanings.

"Yet at some point, this 'stupendous claim' of prophecy and fulfillment could no longer function with the combination of written Tanakh and oral tradition ... but had to develop its own written authority ... what we now call 'the New Testament,' " Pelikan writes.

In shaping this testament, disputes arose over the written gospels. The first agreement came in the mid-4th century, and the canon was formally settled in 692, incorporating books seen as connected to the apostles.

While the Greek Bible remained the text of Eastern Orthodoxy, the Latin translation from the Greek - the Latin Vulgate - became the Roman Catholic scripture, dominant in Western Europe for 1,000 years. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • A full archive of books and articles related to this one
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Q. Whose Bible Is It? A. Whose Isn't It? ; Today, as in the Long-Ago Past,the Scriptures May Divide but, in a Wider Sense, They Conquer
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

    Already a member? Log in now.