Philip R. Davies† [+]
University of Sheffield, (Emeritus)
Two fashionable dimensions of biblical scholarship are reception and what is called vernacular or contextual reading. The first, accepting that the meaning of any text depends on the reader as well as the author and the text itself, explores how the meanings of the Bible have shifted with different political and social circumstances. Examples of major changes are the Protestant readings that followed the printing of the scriptures in vernacular languages and the political upheavals that ushered in the modern period, especially the Enlightenment. The Bible became a political tract, bringing into being the colonization of North America and the political complexion of the United States of America. More recently, feminism fomented a revolution that led to all kinds of readings against patriarchy, racism, sexual discrimination and all kinds of cultural hierarchy. These movements might well be seen as part of a growing secularism with regard to religious scriptures and religion itself, whereby biblical values are judged by contemporary social ones rather than the other way round.