The Bible: The Basics (Paperback) book cover

The Bible: The Basics

By John Barton

© 2010 – Routledge

190 pages

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Paperback: 9780415411363
pub: 2010-01-25
Hardback: 9780415411356
pub: 2010-01-25

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The Bible: The Basics is a compelling introduction to the Bible as both a sacred text, central to the faith of millions, and a classic work of Western literature, containing a tapestry of genres, voices, perspectives and images. This masterly guide skilfully addresses both aspects of the Bible’s character by exploring:

  • the rich variety of literary forms, from poetry to prophecy and epistles to apocalypses
  • the historical, geographic and social context of the Bible
  • contemporary attitudes to the Bible held by believers and non-believers
  • the status of biblical interpretation today

Including maps, a chronology and detailed suggestions for further reading, this is an ideal starting point for people of any faith or none who are studying the Bible in any setting or simply want to know more about the best-selling book of all time.


‘This book gives readers ‘the basics’ certainly, but also much more than that, introducing them to some of the enduring and endlessly interesting questions about the Bible and its cultural influence. The writing is clear and fluid, but never overly simplifying. It is to be highly recommended as a first (or a second or third) book on the Bible.’Tod Linafelt, Georgetown University, USA

‘With characteristic lucidity and freshness, John Barton provides here a very accessible up-to-date introduction that addresses key issues in a balanced and thoroughly accessible way. This book offers firm foundations for the modern student in explaining how the Bible has been read by western scholars in the last two hundred years, addressing literary, historical, social, and theological questions that remain relevant for the twenty-first century.’George J. Brooke, University of Manchester, UK

‘Barton is a gifted scholar who regularly offers penetrating critiques and correctives to the latest developments in Biblical studies. At the same time, he is one of the few scholars able to write for a general audience. His lucid prose, and perhaps more importantly, the balanced and sensible positions he takes on the most controversial issues makes this yet another welcome contribution.’Bill T. Arnold, Asbury Theological Seminary, USA

Table of Contents

Preface; 1. The Bible in the Modern World; 2. The Nature of the Bible; 3. Major Genres; 4. Religious Themes; 5. The Bible and History; 6. The Social World of the Bible; 7. Biblical Interpretation Today; Bibliography

About the Author

John Barton is Oriel and Laing Professor of the Interpretation of Holy Scripture, University of Oxford.

About the Series

The Basics

The Basics is a highly successful series of accessible guidebooks which provide an overview of the fundamental principles of a subject area in a jargon-free and undaunting format.

Intended for students approaching a subject for the first time, the books both introduce the essentials of a subject and provide an ideal springboard for further study. With over 50 titles spanning subjects from Artificial Intelligence to Women’s Studies, The Basics are an ideal starting point for students seeking to understand a subject area.

Each text comes with recommendations for further study and gradually introduces the complexities and nuances within a subject.

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
RELIGION / General
RELIGION / Biblical Studies / General
RELIGION / Biblical Reference / General