1. Approaching the Bible
Philip R. Davies† [+]
University of Sheffield, (Emeritus)
Most Bible readers, perhaps, think the Bible contains truth, or some truth, about God, humans and the world, and teaches us this partly by describing the past and predicting the future and directing how we should live. Others dismiss it as containing myths, unscientific superstitions and oldfashioned ethical views that have little or no relevance to the twenty-first century. Additionally, for many people in our multicultural society the Bible has no historical or cultural value at all. Whether the Bible should play any role in a modern secular society is questionable. Should we bother to read it, let alone try and understand it? Having been at the centre of European (Western) culture for two thousand years, is it now of little relevance? Does it still help us to understand our culture or contribute to it? The first response to this challenge needs to be that in order to understand, appreciate and use the Bible, we do not have either to believe in it as the Word of God, nor reject it as upholding obsolete values like patriarchy, warfare, slavery, absolute monarchy or racism.