The Bible After Babel: Historical Criticism in a Postmodern Age
Biblical scholars today often sound as if they are caught in the aftermath of Babel — a clamor of voices unable to reach common agreement. But is this necessarily a bad thing? Many postmodern critics hear the confusion of critical languages as a welcome opportunity for diverse new approaches.
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 begins by examining the quest of historical criticism to objectively establish a text’s basic meaning. He goes on to deftly review the alternative methods of postmodern criticism, the disputed history of ancient Israel, and the ways in which postcolonial and feminist scholarship has called into question the moral authority of the Bible.
At the same time, as more diverse practitioners — including Jews, women, and ethnic minorities — have entered the field of biblical studies, many of the accepted conclusions of previous scholarship have crumbled. 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.
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