Camden Theological Library

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Global Perspectives on the Bible

Posted on 15 September 2014 Gavin Glenn

This book is a lot like the Bible itself in that it is a diverse collection of writings emanating from a variety of geographic, social, cultural, political, economic, and religious contexts. But wait—that first sentence has already indicated a great deal about us (the editors) and about our views of the Bible. Maybe we’ve already revealed more about us—our background, education, life experiences, and so on—than about the Bible itself. To us, the Bible—and specifically the Old Testament—is indeed an eclectic anthology, much like this book. However, if someone else were to have written that first sentence, they might have started by introducing the Bible as the infallible Word of God, a book that provides moral and ethical guidelines for everyday life and God’s plan of salvation. Another person might have opened with the claim that the Bible is one of the most toxic texts ever produced and that its continuing influence in our world is one of the great mysteries and tragedies of our day. Incidentally, neither of these two potential perspectives is incompatible with our statement that the Bible is an eclectic anthology.

The point is this: It’s all about perspective. People are different. They approach the Bible with their own various ideas, beliefs, and assumptions, which means there are a myriad of possible ways to write that first sentence. Nobody can say anything without saying something about themselves.

But you may have already known that. Most people living in our postmodern world—or whatever we are supposed to call it now (that’s also a matter of perspective)—realize that there is no neutral, objective perspective from which to assess things, no position that is unencumbered by a specific life setting. Everyone comes from somewhere. Everyone is born in a certain time and place to certain parents and has had certain experiences that shape how we see the world. All those “certainties,” to which many more could be added, make up who you are; they define your specific context and perspective. They also mean that you can be certain that your interpretation of a given biblical text is not the only way that it can be interpreted. While the idea of varied perspectives is hardly new, you may not be aware of the extent and nature of some of those different readings. Hence this book.

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