“Personal and accessible . . . The Rise and Fall of the Bible is Beal’s attempt to shatter this popular understanding of the Bible as a combination of divine instruction manual and self-help book.”—Adam Kirsch, Tablet
In this revelatory exploration, a noted religion scholar and former evangelical Christian 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. Among his surprising insights:
*Christianity thrived for centuries without any Bible. Early congregations used collections of scrolls; there was no official canon of scriptures and no book existed that was big enough to hold them.
*The idea of the Bible as the literal Word of God is only about a century old.
*There is no “original” Bible behind the thousands of Bibles on the market today. The further back we go in the Bible’s history, the more versions we find.
In The Rise and Fall of the Bible Beal offers a 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.
“Part autobiography, part social scientific research, part shrewd discernment, and part theological interpretation—Tim Beal has written a zinger of a book about the cultural history of the Bible. This welcome and important book will cause a pause before we make glib claims for ‘the Word of the Lord.’” —Walter Brueggemann
“Beal . . . makes a compelling case against the idea of a fully consistent and unerring book, positing instead a very human volume with all the twists and foibles of the human experience, truly reflecting that human experience. He presents a convincing case for a radical rereading of the text, an honest appreciation of this sacred book. An engrossing and excellent work, highly recommended.”—Publishers Weekly, starred review