The end of the millennium sees biblical study in a state of transition. The traditional position of historical approaches is widely questioned and `historical criticism' is regarded as passé. There is a search for approaches - literary or sociological - that are less tied to history. On the other hand there is a more radical approach to the history of Israel, that sees true history as distinct from the biblical narrative and dependent on sources other than the Bible. Biblical narratives thus express not the actual events but the ideological and religious aspirations of writers in much later times. `Ideology' has become one of the key words, but is used in very divergent ways. All this is linked with the intellectual movement known as post-modernism. Some connections between post-modernism and theology are suggested by Professor Barr in the final chapter. This book is important because it tries to bring together various threads of these different movements and to state a position from which we may advance into the new millennium.
Review from previous edition Barr is at once formidably well-informed and remarkably patient and persistent, entertaining even, as he chamfers away at current opinion. * Journal of Theological Studies * I know of no clearer guide to the present debate on writing the history of Israel, with all its mud-slinging between proponents of different datings of the biblical sources and different approaches to the place of texts and of archaeology: this chapter is essential reading for anyone at all interested in historical reconstruction of ancient Israel. * Theology * His coverage is enviably comprehensive and at the same time accessible to anyone interested in biblical study. * Theology * James Barr is a seasoned interpreter of the current scene in biblical studies, and in this book ... he once again provides a trenchant account of contemporary preoccupations. * Theology * Professor Barr appears to be much more in touch with real life than many biblical scholars, whose researches become increasingly arcane and esoteric. ... There is much here for serious thought to engage with. * The Expository Times * The older scholarship may have been dull and pedestrian, but it was solid, he comments. He himself is never dull nor pedestrian. * John Goldingay, Church Times * If you, like me, are more sympathetic to post-modernism than Professor Barr, then his strictures and his relentless critique may encourage you to think hard before yielding to fashion. * John Goldingay, Church Times * No one thinks more acutely. No one writes so devastatingly ... It is thus a great delight to have him, in his 70s, applying himself to the state of biblical studies at the turn of the millennium * John Goldingay, Church Times * Barr ... uses his formidable debating skills and knowlege of the Hebrew bible to examine those post-modern approaches to the Old Testament that set out to unmask its ideological presuppositions and dismiss its value for theology ... Barr does not pull his punches. * Bishop Paul Richardson, C of E Newspaper * This is a stimulating and important book that should be studied carefully by everyone interested in the future of theology ... his wit and polemical skills make this an enjoyable book to read. * Bishop Paul Richardson, C of E Newspaper * Liberal fundamentalism is far more entrenched in universities and theological colleges than the biblical fundamentalism Barr has criticised in the past ... It is good to see its dogmas subject to such a devastating analysis. * Bishop Paul Richardson, C of E Newspaper * Deserves to be read by the younger generation of Biblical scholars who will train pastors and teachers in the new millennium. * Old Testament Essays * A first-class read. * Journal for the Study of the Old Testament *