The Bible After Babel

The Bible After Babel : Historical Criticism in a Postmodern Age

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Biblical scholars today often sound as if they are caught in the aftermath of Babel - a clamor of voices unable to reach common agreement. Yet is this confusion necessarily a bad thing? Many postmodern critics see the recent profusion of critical approaches as a welcome opportunity for the emergence of diverse new techniques. In The Bible after Babel noted biblical scholar John J. Collins considers the effect of the postmodern situation on biblical, primarily Old Testament, criticism over the last three decades. Engaging and even-handed, Collins examines the quest of historical criticism to objectively establish a text's basic meaning. Accepting that the Bible may no longer provide secure "foundations" for faith, Collins still highlights its ethical challenge to be concerned for "the other" - a challenge central both to Old Testament ethics and to the teaching of Jesus.show more

Product details

  • Paperback | 212 pages
  • 149.9 x 223.5 x 17.8mm | 294.84g
  • William B Eerdmans Publishing Co
  • Grand Rapids, United States
  • English
  • 1, black & white illustrations
  • 0802828922
  • 9780802828927
  • 380,317

Back cover copy

Biblical scholars today often sound as if they are caught in the aftermath of Babel -- a clamor of voices unable to reach common agreement. Yet is this confusion necessarily a bad thing? Many postmodern critics see the recent profusion of critical approaches as a welcome opportunity for the emergence of diverse new techniques. In "The Bible after Babel" noted biblical scholar John J. Collins considers the effect of the postmodern situation on biblical, primarily Old Testament, criticism over the last three decades. Engaging and even-handed, Collins examines the quest of historical criticism to objectively establish a text's basic meaning. Accepting that the Bible may no longer provide secure "foundations" for faith, Collins still highlights its ethical challenge to be concerned for "the other" -- a challenge central both to Old Testament ethics and to the teaching of Jesus.show more

Review quote

Christopher Rowland Queen's College, Oxford "John J. Collins shows here again his extraordinary ability as an exegete and a sympathetic critic of modern trends in biblical study. . . As a wise guide to trends in modern biblical scholarship, "The Bible after Babel"manages to recognize both the strengths and the weaknesses of liberationist and related interpretative approaches. Collins succeeds in offering ways of detecting 'a still small voice' of challenge, insight, and great worth in the midst of the welter of contemporary debate about the Bible. A masterly book."Saul M. Olyan Brown University "With characteristic insight, learning, and wit, John J. Collins leads readers on a tour of a field transformed. Finding valid concerns and significant insights in feminist criticism, deconstruction, and postcolonial analysis, among other newer approaches to the study of the Bible, Collins demonstrates nonetheless that historical criticism is still a lively, evolving approach drawing upon multiple methods. This wise and timely book is a must-read for anyone specialist or nonspecialist interested in the future of historical biblical criticism."John Barton Oriel College, Oxford ""The Bible after Babel"provides a reliable guide to the present state of Old Testament studies and also offers characteristically original and stimulating ideas on future directions. It contains a fine discussion of many contemporary issues, including the place of postmodernism, 'minimalism, ' and feminist/gender studies. Collins is always both judicious and original."Ronald Hendel University of California, Berkeley "This is the best book I've read on biblical studies in many a year. With a rare combination of erudition, evenhandedness, and wit, Collins guides us through the recent controversies that have changed the field involving the study of history, religion, gender, and theology and sets them in the wider intellectual horizons of our times. The result is a magisterial and entertaining summary and critique of where we are, how we got here, and what the future might hold. Filled with treasures, this book is a must-read for anyone interested in present and future biblical interpretation.""Religious Studies Review" "Engages each of the writers in a fair-minded and irenic way, and exemplifies his own call for reasoned dialogue among scholars. This is a helpful book for both historical critics and practitioners of newer approaches.""Reviews in Religion & Theology" "A welcomed addition to the modern/postmodern debate. . . Collins contributions, all of which are characterized by his forthright manner and judicious interpretations, will keep the modern/post-modern dialogue moving forward.""show more

About John J. Collins

John J Collins is Holmes Professor of Old Testament Exegesis and Criticism at Yale Divinity School and has served as President of the Society of Biblical Literature and of the Catholic Biblical Association. His previous books include The Apocalyptic Imagination and Between Athens and Jerusalem.show more