In recent decades, reception history has become an increasingly important and controversial topic of discussion in biblical studies. Rather than attempting to recover the original meaning of biblical texts, reception history focuses on exploring the history of interpretation. In doing so it locates the dominant historical-critical scholarly paradigm within the history of interpretation, rather than over and above it. At the same time, the breadth of material and hermeneutical issues that reception history engages with questions any narrow understanding of the history of the Bible and its effects on faith communities.
The challenge that reception history faces is to explore tradition without either reducing its meaning to what faith communities think is important, or merely offering anthologies of interesting historical interpretations. This major new handbook addresses these matters by presenting reception history as an enterprise (not a method) that questions and understands tradition afresh.
The Oxford Handbook of the Reception History of the Bible consciously allows for the interplay of the traditional and the new through a two-part structure. Part I comprises a set of essays surveying the outline, form, and content of twelve key biblical books that have been influential in the history of interpretation. Part II offers a series of in-depth case studies of the interpretation of particular key biblical passages or books with due regard for the specificity of their social, cultural or aesthetic context.
These case studies span two millennia of interpretation by readers with widely differing perspectives. Some are at the level of a group response (from Gnostic readings of Genesis, to Post-Holocaust Jewish interpretations of Job); others examine individual approaches to texts (such as Augustine and Pelagius on Romans, or Gandhi on the Sermon on the Mount). Several chapters examine historical moments, such as the 1860 debate over Genesis and evolution, while others look to wider themes such as non-violence or millenarianism. Further chapters study in detail the works of popular figures who have used the Bible to provide inspiration for their creativity, from Dante and Handel, to Bob Dylan and Dan Brown.
Michael Lieb is Research Professor of Humanities Emeritus and Professor of English Emeritus at University of Illinois, Chicago.
Emma Mason is Senior Lecturer at University of Warwick.
"The Handbook is an informative, entertaining, and diverse invitation to further engage in the work of reception history."--Life on Gold Plates
"The contributors are impressively qualified. Substantial bibliographies follow each chapter; subject/citation indexes are included. Considered individually, this work's 44 chapters engage interesting themes and topics."--CHOICE
"There is much to like in this volume, and spending time with it will reward any reader. Overall the essays pave ample avenues into thinking about the ways that the Bible has been used over the centuries. I was delighted to gain new insights into figures and interpretations that I knew previously and fascinated to learn about interpreters about whom I had barely or never heard. If one criterion for a successful handbook might be how much one can learn, this volume accomplishes that goal admirably."--Near Eastern Archaeology