A Most Peculiar Book: The Inherent Strangeness of the Bible
Kristin Swenson (Author)
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DescriptionThe Bible, we are constantly reminded, is the best-selling book of all time. It is read with intense devotion by hundreds of millions of people, stands as authoritative for Judaism and Christianity, and informs and affects the politics and lives of the religious and non-religious around the world. But how well do we really know it? The Bible is so familiar, so ubiquitous that we have begun to take our knowledge of it for granted. The Bible many of us think we know is a pale imitation of the real thing. In A Most Peculiar Book, Kristin Swenson addresses the dirty little secret of biblical studies -- that the Bible is a weird book. It is full of surprises and contradictions, unexplained impossibilities, intriguing supernatural creatures, and heroes doing horrible deeds. It does not provide a simple worldview: what "the Bible says" on a given topic is multi-faceted, sometimes even contradictory. Yet, Swenson argues, we have a tendency to reduce the complexities of the Bible to aphorisms, bumper stickers, and slogans. Swenson helps readers look at the text with fresh eyes. A collection of ancient stories and poetry written by multiple authors, held together by the tenuous string of tradition, the Bible often undermines our modern assumptions. And is all the more marvelous and powerful for it. Rather than dismiss the Bible as an outlandish or irrelevant relic of antiquity, Swenson leans into the messiness full-throttle. Making ample room for discomfort, wonder, and weirdness, A Most Peculiar Book guides readers through a Bible that will feel, to many, brand new.
Oxford University Press, USA
February 01, 2021
5.5 X 8.4 X 1.2 inches | 1.0 pounds
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About the Author
Kristin Swenson is Associate Professor of Religious at Virginia Commonwealth University. She is the author of Bible Babel: Making Sense of the Most Talked About Book of All Time and Living through Pain: Psalms and the Search for Wholeness.
"there is much good and well-informed discussion on particular texts or topics that would serve its intended readers well" -- KEITH BEECH-GRÜNEBERG, Journal for the Study of the Old Testament
"a remarkable piece of work ... Do read this book, generously and openmindedly. You will not regret it." -- Nicholas King SJ, The Way
"Writing in an engaging style and with a palpable love of Scripture... Swenson offers a helpful guide especially to both those who reject the Bible as nonsense and those who insist on literalist interpretation." -- A.J. Levine, CHOICE
"Kristin Swenson's latest book on the Book tackles the complex and surprising dimensions of the Bible and offers readers a way of understanding the Bible they may not have considered." -- Nick Mattiske, Journey
"Rather than dismiss the Bible as an outlandish or irrelevant relic of antiquity, Swenson leans into the messiness full throttle. Making ample room for discomfort, wonder, and weirdness, A Most Peculiar Book guides readers through a Bible that will feel, to many, brand new." -- Church Times
"Alongside the many controversial issues and complexities that the Bible poses, Swenson has herein brought everything to within a very fine appreciation of transparent proposal and the most utmost of appeal." -- David Marx Book Reviews
"Rigorous [and] stimulating... Both religious and secular readers will benefit from Swenson's illuminating analysis of the Bible's contradictions and oddities."
--Publishers Weekly, Starred Review
"Do you think you know the Bible? Wait till you read Kristin Swenson's new book. What if you don't know the Bible at all? Even better. A Most Peculiar Book is a deeply informed, completely accessible, and endlessly fascinating explanation of what scholars know about the Bible and lay people, as a rule, do not. Read this book and prepare to learn!" -- Bart D. Ehrman, author of Heaven and Hell: A History of the Afterlife
"One can only truly love and respect the Bible if one is willing to embrace its complexities, problems, messiness, and just plain weirdness. Whether you are looking to deepen your relationship with sacred scripture or are coming to the Bible for the first time, Kristin Swenson will help you appreciate -- even love -- the Bible as it is." -- Peter Enns, author of The Bible Tells Me So and How the Bible Actually Works
"A stimulating and challenging book, which questions all simplistic 'Bible-believing' theories about the authority of Scripture by showing how complex and contradictory it often is. Kristin Swenson tackles the problems head on while still making good her claim to love the Bible." -- John Barton, author of A History of the Bible: The Story of the World's Most Influential Book
"[Swenson] writes this insightful and instructive book for the believer, the unbeliever, and the ones in between, since they all might have interest in its methods of interpretation." --Library Journal
"Swenson has written an interesting, intriguing, and worthwhile volume on how the Bible can sometimes be a complex and difficult book."--Gospel Coalition