The Bible, we are constantly reminded, is the best-selling book of all time. It is read with intense devotion by hundreds of millions of people, stands as authoritative for Judaism and Christianity, and informs and affects the politics and lives of the religious and non-religious around the world. But how well do we really know it? The Bible is so familiar, so ubiquitous that we have begun to take our knowledge of it for granted. The Bible many of us think we know is
a pale imitation of the real thing.
In A Most Peculiar Book, Kristin Swenson addresses the dirty little secret of biblical studies - that the Bible is a weird book. It is full of surprises and contradictions, unexplained impossibilities, intriguing supernatural creatures, and heroes doing horrible deeds. It does not provide a simple worldview: what "the Bible says" on a given topic is multi-faceted, sometimes even contradictory. Yet, Swenson argues, we have a tendency to reduce the complexities of the Bible to
aphorisms, bumper stickers, and slogans. Swenson helps readers look at the text with fresh eyes. A collection of ancient stories and poetry written by multiple authors, held together by the tenuous string of tradition, the Bible often undermines our modern assumptions. And is all the more marvelous and powerful for it.
Rather than dismiss the Bible as an outlandish or irrelevant relic of antiquity, Swenson leans into the messiness full-throttle. Making ample room for discomfort, wonder, and weirdness, A Most Peculiar Book guides readers through a Bible that will feel, to many, brand new.
Kristin Swenson sets out to complexify the Bible for her readers and, in a certain sense, she is successful. We are treated to something like a catalogue of the Bible's oddities, idiosyncrasies, and contradictions, all written in a readable, accessible style * Rory J. Balfour, Durham University, Durham, UK, Journal of Reformed Theology * there is much good and well-informed discussion on particular texts or topics that would serve its intended readers well * KEITH BEECH-GRUENEBERG, Journal for the Study of the Old Testament * a remarkable piece of work ... Do read this book, generously and openmindedly. You will not regret it. * Nicholas King SJ, The Way * Writing in an engaging style and with a palpable love of Scripture... Swenson offers a helpful guide especially to both those who reject the Bible as nonsense and those who insist on literalist interpretation. * A.J. Levine, CHOICE * Kristin Swenson's latest book on the Book tackles the complex and surprising dimensions of the Bible and offers readers a way of understanding the Bible they may not have considered. * Nick Mattiske, Journey * Rather than dismiss the Bible as an outlandish or irrelevant relic of antiquity, Swenson leans into the messiness full throttle. Making ample room for discomfort, wonder, and weirdness, A Most Peculiar Book guides readers through a Bible that will feel, to many, brand new. * Church Times * Alongside the many controversial issues and complexities that the Bible poses, Swenson has herein brought everything to within a very fine appreciation of transparent proposal and the most utmost of appeal. * David Marx Book Reviews * Rigorous [and] stimulating... Both religious and secular readers will benefit from Swenson's illuminating analysis of the Bible's contradictions and oddities." * Publishers Weekly, Starred Review
* Do you think you know the Bible? Wait till you read Kristin Swenson's new book. What if you don't know the Bible at all? Even better. A Most Peculiar Book is a deeply informed, completely accessible, and endlessly fascinating explanation of what scholars know about the Bible and lay people, as a rule, do not. Read this book and prepare to learn! * Bart D. Ehrman, author of Heaven and Hell: A History of the Afterlife * One can only truly love and respect the Bible if one is willing to embrace its complexities, problems, messiness, and just plain weirdness. Whether you are looking to deepen your relationship with sacred scripture or are coming to the Bible for the first time, Kristin Swenson will help you appreciate - even love - the Bible as it is. * Peter Enns, author of The Bible Tells Me So and How the Bible Actually Works * A stimulating and challenging book, which questions all simplistic 'Bible-believing' theories about the authority of Scripture by showing how complex and contradictory it often is. Kristin Swenson tackles the problems head on while still making good her claim to love the Bible. * John Barton, author of A History of the Bible: The Story of the World's Most Influential Book * This book explores what is weird, difficult, and disconcerting both about and in the Bible, seeking to show how those qualities can enrich one's relationship, religious or not, to the text...Swenson, formerly professor of religious studies at Virginia Commonwealth University and now a full-time writer, observes that the Bible demands interaction and even argument, and therefore in this book she has shared questions that both make her love the Bible and make that love
complicated. * New Testament Abstracts *