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The Bible

Hardcover / ISBN-13: 9781529383447

Price: £30

ON SALE: 26th September 2024

Genre: Humanities / Religion & Beliefs / Religion: General / History Of Religion

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‘Wonderful’ JOHN BARTON

‘A stupendous intellectual achievement’ ANDREW PETTEGREE

‘A stunning love song to the Bible . . . this will be a classic’ CHINE MCDONALD

The remarkable story of the most influential book in human history.

The Bible is the world’s best-known text. Yet, it is a book that never was – its original form does not exist and probably never did. What we have is the inheritance of generation after generation of Christians who have sought to hear God speak. Available in over three thousand languages and taking innumerable forms, each version is a revelation, evolving as a reflection of its own culture and moment.

Bruce Gordon traces the Bible’s astounding journey from its emergence as a codex in the second century, to the Reformation, to the spectacular growth of Christianity in the Global South today. For centuries a source of inspiration, it has also been a tool for violence and oppression, weaponised in the name of colonialism, and it has expressed hopes for freedom in the struggle for liberation. Found in desert monasteries and Chinese house churches, in Byzantine cathedrals and Guatemalan villages, it has been a book in motion from its very beginnings, a product of more than two thousand years of wandering, restlessness and change.

Breathtakingly global in scope, The Bible is a sweeping history of this sacred book told through the stories of its diverse human encounters in search of the divine – revealing not a static text but a living, dynamic cultural force.


Even the best-informed readers will have much to learn from Bruce Gordon's erudite and accessible history of the Bible, which ranges knowledgeably across eras and Christian traditions, and indeed across continents. It deserves to find the widest possible audience
Philip Jenkins, author of THE NEXT CHRISTENDOM
With stunning prose and relentless insight that could only come from this rightly celebrated historian, Bruce Gordon has given us the book that we need at this moment, a real history of the Bible. In Gordon's capable hands, the Bible becomes a sojourner through history who constantly makes history, and through whom history can be fruitfully understood in all its depths. This book is, quite simply, an intellectual feast
Willie James Jennings, author of THE CHRISTIAN IMAGINATION
This extraordinary book is both a stupendous intellectual achievement and a marvellously accessible guide that will delight everyone interested in how the Christian texts became the Bible, and why it has played such an enduring role in reading and worship in the millennia since
Andrew Pettegree, author of THE LIBRARY
If the word of God is alive, it has now met its best modern biographer. Filled with surprises, and sometimes aching with beauty, this is a book to take you wide-eyed round the world and then lead you back to that old leather-bound volume on your shelf
Alec Ryrie, author of PROTESTANTS
What I loved best about this book - aside from the elegant prose and the abundance of startling facts - is the sense of a strong, wise mind behind it. Bruce Gordon has written a book that will engage anyone interested in the Bible, which is anyone interested in human history
Christian Wiman, author of ZERO AT THE BONE
Bruce Gordon guides us on the boundless, unending odyssey of the 'Book of Books.' The Bible is a testament to the power not only of Scripture but of the written word itself to connect humanity, to educate, liberate, and also to repress. Gordon bears witness to the individual lives leavened by the ever-changing form of the 'Book of Life,' from Frederick Douglass to the football fans of today's South Africa. This is a compelling account of two millennia of Western book culture, and the places and, above all, the people the Bible has touched
This is the best survey yet written of the global transmission, and impact, of the world's most influential book. It is readable enough to be enjoyed by anybody, while any expert is likely to learn something new from it
Ronald Hutton, author of PAGAN BRITAIN
This is a stunning love song to the Bible. Bruce Gordon has managed the rare feat of telling a complicated story that spans two thousand years in an engaging and accessible way, that brings new perspectives and a fresh energy to the rediscovery of the Bible. In years to come, this will be a classic text for anyone intrigued by the most popular book of all time
Chine McDonald, author of GOD IS NOT A WHITE MAN
This is a beautifully written exploration of the journey of the Bible, as the most influential book in the world. It goes from manuscripts to translations, from antiquity to the contemporary world, from the Mediterranean to Africa and China. It shows how the Bible, in all its richness, plays multiple roles: used for good or ill, and certainly as a tool for colonialism. Yet, the Bible is vitally important in the twists and turns of world history, as is shown everywhere in the pages of this fascinating narrative
Joan E. Taylor, co-author of WOMEN REMEMBERED
Wonderful. The word "global" is fully justified, because this book covers the appropriation and use of the Bible in a far wider range of cultures than are covered in any other book known to me. Yet it manages to do so without ever becoming either superficial or breathless - you never feel as though items on a list are being checked. It is a highly comprehensive guide to the worldwide reception of Scripture, that remains measured and even. I shall certainly use it to learn about the reception of the Bible outside the western world
John Barton, author of A HISTORY OF THE BIBLE
Smoothly capturing a sprawling and complex history, Gordon frames the Bible as a cultural artifact and a dynamic site where identity is negotiated; a force that binds communities; and an arena where foreign influences are contested. The result is a fascinating look at how the "most influential book in the world" came to be
Publishers Weekly, Starred Review