The Bible (Beginner’s Guides series) by Paula Gooder (2013)
A recent imprint from Oneworld Beginner’s Guides is Paula Gooder’s The Bible. My copy is already well-thumbed, filled as it is with clear background on the Bible’s history, genre, canon, translation, interpretation, and continuing legacy. With the exception of the last of these, Gooder chose her themes based on some of the commonest questions she is asked as a theologian.
It is very much an introduction to the subject, but while accessible it is far from simplistic. In the chapter on interpretation, for example, Gooder deals with current approaches to the history of the texts, the literary nature of the texts, and what readers bring to the texts. However, she does so only after looking into the ways in which the Bible has been interpreted through the centuries, including within the Bible itself.
It is a compelling overview, but not a ‘how to read the Bible’ manual such as Charpentier’s; nor does it have the cultural coverage of John Drane’s volumes. Yet it is comprehensive and occasionally surprising. Those of us who routinely consult a variety of translations when preparing an address may learn something new from Paula Gooder’s description of formal and dynamic/functional equivalence as well as of the politics behind some translations.
There is the nub, for this is no dry investigation. Gooder’s The Bible is very much about the people whose story is contained in the Bible; the people who have helped form the Bible for worship and to other ends; and about those who the Bible continues to touch in their search for a relationship with God.
Illustrations and text-boxes are few and complement Gooder’s easy-going style. For those wishing to take their interest further, however, the ‘suggested reading’ section is wide-ranging and bang up-to-date. At under £10 for around 200 pages, this book is excellent value.
Reviewed by David Hughes
‘The Bible’ is normally priced £9.99. As Book of the Month for October it is just £8.99 and POST FREE until 30th October 2013