The Bible: The Basics: 2nd Edition (Paperback) book cover

The Bible: The Basics

2nd Edition

By John Barton


194 pages

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pub: 2018-12-20
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The Bible: The Basics is an accessible and engaging 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 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.

The second edition has been updated throughout and includes maps 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 who simply want to know more about the best-selling book of all time.


"This book draws on the author’s lifetime of experience in Biblical Studies to introduce in clear and simple terms some of the complex ideas and debates that have shaped the field in recent times. It succinctly introduces both the nature and background of the biblical text, making this an ideal book for anyone who wants to explore the Bible in more depth. Professor Barton understands how to read the Bible from both scholarly and faith-based perspectives, and students from many backgrounds will find this a stimulating and useful read."

- Andrew Village, York St John University, UK

"Barton manages to address heavy-weight topics with great care and clarity that can easily be approached by both academic students or interested readers. I highly recommend this second edition."

- Kirsi Cobb, Cliff College, UK

"This second edition of Barton’s introduction succeeds in introducing the reader to the pitfalls and neuralgic points of current Biblical studies. It functions as an invitation to read the Bible […] while, at the same time, encouraging one to ask how its future readers will resolve its many conundrums. It is hoped that many people read this book with an aim towards testing their preconceptions and general knowledge of the biblical text."

- Philipp Reisner, Heinrich-Heine-Universität Düsseldorf, Germany, Reading Religion

Table of Contents

List of figures

Preface to the first edition

Preface to the second edition


The Bible in the modern world


The nature of the Bible


Major genres


Religious themes


The Bible and history


The social world of the Bible


Biblical interpretation today



About the Author

John Barton is Emeritus Oriel and Laing Professor of the Interpretation of Holy Scripture and a senior Research Fellow of Campion Hall, University of Oxford, UK.

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