The Rise and Fall of the Bible
Timothy Beal, The Rise and Fall of the Bible:The Unexpected History of an Accidental Book, (New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt), 2011.
There seems to be a genre of literature these days that includes books of Biblical and theological reflections by persons who are recovering from fundamentalism. They often present concepts and ideas that are remarkably similar to the things we studied in seminary more than three decades ago as if those ideas were just discovered in recent times. Here is another book in that category.
I am sure that congregations that are more fundamentalist in their approach than ours are an excellent entry point into Christian thinking for many faithful people. and I know I shouldn't complain about their spiritual journeys, but it does seem as if there are a lot of books published today by authors who haven't done much of a search of the existing literature before coming up with their book.
That's enough complaining. The book provided material for several interesting discussions in our clergy book club and I'm sure it would be fun to discuss in a variety of different settings. It is a scholarly undertaking with a competent bibliography and makes a strong case for a more careful reading of the Bible than some have given it. It also contains a useful summary of the history of interpretation that helps people to see the particular interpretations they have experienced in the context of others who have held similar interpretations.
All in all, it is a good read and will be, I believe, useful for discussion groups and others who are invested in taking a closer look at the Bible.