The Rise and Fall of the Bible by Timothy Beal
The Unexpected History of an Accidental Book

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In this revelatory exploration of one of our most revered icons, a critically acclaimed author and professor takes us back to early Christianity to ask how a box of handwritten scrolls became the Bible, and forward to see how the multibillion-dollar business that has brought us Biblezines and Manga Bibles is selling down the Bible’s sacred capital. Showing us how a single official text was created from the proliferation of different scripts, Beal traces its path as it became embraced as the word of God and Book of books. Among his surprising insights:

• Christianity thrived for centuries without any Bible—there was no official canon of scriptures, much less a book big enough to hold them all. Congregations used various collections of scrolls and codices. 

• There is no “original” Bible, no single source text behind the thousands of different Bibles on the market today. The farther we go back in the Bible’s history, the more versions we find. 

• The idea of the Bible as the literal Word of God is relatively new—only about a century old.  Beal’s is an inspiring new take on the Bible. In calling for a fresh understanding of the ways scriptures were used in the past, he offers the chance to rediscover a Bible, and a faith, that is truer to its own history—not a book of answers but a library of questions.


About Timothy Beal

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TIMOTHY BEAL is Florence Harkness Professor of Religion at Case Western Reserve University. He has published eleven books, including Biblical Literacy: The Essential Bible Stories Everyone Needs to Know and Roadside Religion: In Search of the Sacred, the Strange, and the Substance of Faith, a New York Times Book Review Editors' Choice and one of Publishers Weekly's ten best religion books of 2005. He has published essays in the New York Times, the Washington Post, and the Chronicle of Higher Education.
Published February 16, 2011 by Mariner Books. 258 pages
Genres: Political & Social Sciences, Religion & Spirituality, Education & Reference, Biographies & Memoirs. Non-fiction

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Kirkus Reviews

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The author believes that the reign of the printed book is coming to an end, and he sees this as a good opportunity for “another way of knowing.” Beal begins with a lengthy introduction to what the Bible has become in the eyes of many Americans—an overworked icon mass-marketed through numerous nic...

Feb 16 2011 | Read Full Review of The Rise and Fall of the Bibl...

Publishers Weekly

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Raised in a strict, religiously literalist home, Beal (Roadside Religion), a professor of religion at Case Western Reserve University, has evolved into a top-notch scholar who makes a compelling case against the idea of a fully consistent and unerring book, positing instead a very human volume wi...

Jan 10 2011 | Read Full Review of The Rise and Fall of the Bibl...

New York Journal of Books

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Mr. Beal’s purpose is not to declare a true version of the Bible, “but to reflect creatively on what each [text] might suggest about religion, and in what sense the Bible is a religious text.” He wants the reader to reflect on the “sacred capital” of the text so there becomes “a relationship that...

Feb 18 2011 | Read Full Review of The Rise and Fall of the Bibl...

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