The Bible: A Very Short Introduction, Paperback Book
3 out of 5 (1 rating)


It is sometimes said that the Bible is one of the most unread books in the world, yet has been a major force in the development of Western culture and continues to exert an enormous influence over many people's lives. This Very Short Introduction looks at the importance accorded to the Bible by different communities and cultures and attempts to explain why it has generated such a rich variety of uses and interpretations. It explores how the Bible was written, the development of the canon, the role of Biblical criticism, the appropriation of the Bible in high and popular culture, and its use for political ends.

ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area.

These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly.

Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.


  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 176 pages, black and white halftones and line drawings
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • Publication Date:
  • ISBN: 9780192853431



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The problem with this VSI series is quite plain. Few people are likely to pick up the VSI to the Bible without already having some interest in the topic, but the series is premised on the idea that each book will hook you into a particular topic. That means that the truly fascinating stuff is squeezed into only half of this book (the writing of the biblical texts, the way jews and early christians decided which books would be part of 'scripture') and the rest of it is about how the bible has been used to uphold/bring down unjust political systems (really? no! surely not!) and on the bare fact that the bible influences much art and culture (shock!). Certainly liberation theology is interesting, as is Atwood's use of biblical allusion in The Handmaid's Tale. But I imagine that most people who read this want to hear more about canonization and less about Desmond Tutu's letters to supports of apartheid. <br/>Two less important problems: the writing is a little condescending, and there are spaces between paragraphs. Odd design choice, that; it makes the whole thing seem much more discontinuous than it is. The first few chapters are quite good, and considering that there's no obvious 'topic' for the author to focus on, he's done a reasonable job.