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WINNER OF THE 2019 DUFF COOPER PRIZE A SUNDAY TIMES BESTSELLER 'With emotional and psychological insight, Barton unlocks this sleeping giant of our culture. In the process, he has produced a masterpiece.' Sunday Times The Bible is the central book of Western culture. For the two faiths which hold it sacred, it is the bedrock of their religion, a singular authority on what to believe and how to live. For non-believers too, it has a commanding status: it is one of the great works of world literature, woven to an unparalleled degree into our language and thought. This book tells the story of the Bible, explaining how it came to be constructed and how it has been understood, from its remote beginnings down to the present. John Barton describes how the narratives, laws, proverbs, prophecies, poems and letters which comprise the Bible were written and when, what we know - and what we cannot know - about their authors and what they might have meant, as well as how these extraordinarily disparate writings relate to each other. His incisive readings shed new light on even the most familiar passages, exposing not only the sources and traditions behind them, but also the busy hands of the scribes and editors who assembled and reshaped them. Untangling the process by which some texts which were regarded as holy, became canonical and were included, and others didn't, Barton demonstrates that the Bible is not the fixed text it is often perceived to be, but the result of a long and intriguing evolution. Tracing its dissemination, translation and interpretation in Judaism and Christianity from Antiquity to the rise of modern biblical scholarship, Barton elucidates how meaning has both been drawn from the Bible and imposed upon it. Part of the book's originality is to illuminate the gap between religion and scripture, the ways in which neither maps exactly onto the other, and how religious thinkers from Augustine to Luther and Spinoza have reckoned with this. Barton shows that if we are to regard the Bible as 'authoritative', it cannot be as believers have so often done in the past.
This book brings together some of the world's most exciting scholars from across a variety of disciplines to provide a concise and accessible guide to the Hebrew Bible. It covers every major genre of book in the Old Testament together with in-depth discussions of major themes such as human nature, covenant, creation, ethics, ritual and purity, sacred space, and monotheism. This authoritative overview sets each book within its historical and cultural context in the ancient Near East, paying special attention to its sociological setting. It provides new insights into the reception of the books and the different ways they have been studied, from historical-critical enquiry to modern advocacy approaches such as feminism and liberation theology. It also includes a guide to biblical translations and textual criticism and helpful suggestions for further reading. Featuring contributions from experts with backgrounds in the Jewish and Christian faith traditions as well as secular scholars in the humanities and social sciences, The Hebrew Bible is the perfect starting place for anyone seeking a user-friendly introduction to the Old Testament, and an invaluable reference book for students and teachers.
The Oxford Bible Commentary is a Bible study and reference work for 21st century students and readers that can be read with any modern translation of the Bible. It offers verse-by-verse explanation of every book of the Bible by the world's leading biblical scholars. From its inception, OBC has been designed as a completely non-denominational commentary, carefully written and edited to provide the best scholarship in a readable style for readers from all different faith backgrounds. It uses the traditional historical-critical method to search for the original meaning of the texts, but also brings in new perspectives and insights - literary, sociological, and cultural - to bring out the expanding meanings of these ancient writings and stimulate new discussion and further enquiry. Newly issued in a series of part volumes, the OBC is now available in an affordable and portable format for the commentaries to the books of the Apocrypha. Includes a general introduction to using the Commentary, in addition to an introduction to study of the Apocrypha.
Whether you see the Bible as the living word of God, or as a highly
significant document from the ancient world, or as one of the
classic works of world literature, The Oxford Bible Commentary will
put in your hands everything you need to study and understand the
In the context of growing concern over climate change and other environmental pressures, Biblical Prophets and Contemporary Environmental Ethics explores what an ecological reading of the biblical text can contribute to contemporary environmental ethics. The Judaeo-Christian tradition has been held partly to blame for a negative attitude to creation - one that has legitimised the exploitative use of the earth's resources. Hilary Marlow explores some of the thinking in the history of the Christian tradition that has contributed to such a perception, before discussing a number of approaches to reading the Old Testament from an ecological perspective. Through a detailed exegetical study of the texts of the biblical prophets Amos, Hosea, and First Isaiah, Marlow examines the portrayal of the relationship between YHWH the God of Israel, humanity and the non-human creation. In the course of this exegesis, searching questions emerge: what are the various understandings of the non-human creation that are present in the text? What assumptions are made about YHWH's relationship to the created world and how he acts within it? And what effect do the actions and choices of human beings have on the created world? Following this close textual study, Marlow examines the problem of deriving ethical norms from the biblical text and discusses some key ethical debates in contemporary environmental theory. The book explores the potential contribution of the biblical exegesis to such debates and concludes by proposing an inter-relational model for reading the Old Testament prophets in the light of contemporary environmental ethics.
A comprehensive and lively introduction to the Old Testament, suitable for sixth-form, university and ministerial students, as well as the interested general reader. It provides a complete course covering history, archaeology, geography and textual interpretation. Its core is a set of chapters on central biblical themes including the nature of God, human suffering, ethics, the relation of God to Israel and the covenant. There are detailed chapters on aspects such as prophecy, worship, law, apocalyptic and wisdom literature and historiography. The book is extensively illustrated and easily navigable with icons, sidebars and boxes providing helpful information and questions for discussion.
Drawn from nine collections published over thirty years, the
thirty-eight poems in this retrospective reveal the poetic
accomplishments of John Barton. In this collection, which is
introduced by R.M Vaughan, Barton explores the role of love in
contemporary society, the complexity of gay experience, the
persistence of homophobia, the reinvention of the idea of family,
and the fear and courage that AIDS engendered and how it continues
to shape the search and attainment of intimacy.
Ethics in Ancient Israel is a study of ethical thinking in ancient Israel from around the eighth to the second century BC. The evidence for this consists primarily of the Old Testament/ Hebrew Bible and Apocrypha, but also other ancient Jewish writings such as the Dead Sea Scrolls and various anonymous and pseudonymous texts from shortly before the New Testament period. Professor John Barton argues that there were several models for thinking about ethics, including a 'divine command' theory, something approximating to natural law, a virtue ethic, and a belief in human custom and convention. Moreover, he examines ideas of reward and punishment, purity and impurity, the status of moral agents and patients, imitation of God, and the image of God in humanity. Barton maintains that ethical thinking can be found not only in laws but also in the wisdom literature, in the Psalms, and in narrative texts. There is much interaction with recent scholarship in both English and German. The book features discussion of comparative material from other ancient Near Eastern cultures and a chapter on short summaries of moral teaching, such as the Ten Commandments. This innovative work should be of interest to those concerned with the interpretation of the Old Testament but also to students of ethics.
Renowned poet and editor John Barton collects his most provocative essays, public lectures, and reviews produced over the past twenty-five years. Barton began publishing in an era much less attentive to queer voices. In this special book, Barton grafts his own memoir about finding his voice as a poet and feet as an editor to astute takes on Margaret Avison, Emily Carr, Pat Lowther, Maureen Hynes, Anne Szumigalski, and many others. Making this book even more essential reading is the larger cultural context Barton brings to bear by writing about the historical production evolution and reception of queer writing in the lengthening shadow of equity.
The study presents archival evidence to show how President Kaunda raised political and economic exclusivity in Zambia in the early years of Zambia's independence, and how this retarded capital investment. Despite formal reforms and a new government, this institutional mechanism still dominates and constrains Zambia's political economy today.
John Barton and Peter Groves present a range of chapters by leading scholarly voices from the worlds of biblical studies and the Church, looking at the study of the New Testament within and around the Church and the impact it has had and can have on Christian theology. The essays in the volume adopt a style of critical engagement with biblical texts, through the prism of a modern and living Church. The focus of the volume is thus not only upon the New Testament itself, but upon how reading the New Testament is important for dialogue within the Church and within Christian denominations. Among the highly distinguished contributors are John Barton, Eric Eve, Mark Goodacre, Christopher Rowland, and Rowan Williams.
"Polari," from the Italian "polare" ("to talk") is a coded language, originating in the U.K. and dating as far back as the 16th century. Overheard in outdoor markets, the theatre, fairgrounds, and circuses, it was appropriated by gay men to provide them with cover as well as with a way to assert personal and shared identities. It spread around the English-speaking world via the Royal Navy, the merchant marine, and cruise ships, adding and subverting many foreign-language words -- like polari -- along the way.
While "Polari" does not employ this jargon or probe its success as a mode of connection between gay men, the language of Barton's poems may be viewed as an effective tool for communicating a sense of history, politics, and aesthetics. Think of "Polari" as a cross-sectional scan of a living tree that reveals ring after ring of Barton's experience of language, with the new buds at the tips of its branches adding colour, movement, and ornament.
Most of these poems were written using set forms drawn from Robin Skelton's "The Shapes of our Singing: A Comprehensive Guide of Verse Forms and Metres from Around the World" (Spokane: Eastern Washington University Press, 2002). While the forms Barton has appropriated are not by themselves the vehicles of a particular sociolect or an anti-language, except, say, of poetry itself, he have nevertheless twisted them to follow the turns of his point of view and aesthetics.
When it comes to time, geography, and subject, "Polari" covers a lot of ground: from child memories to the frailties and deaths of ageing parents; from Queen Victoria's coronation to the first ascent of Everest; from the October Crisis to the trial of Omar Khadr. The titles of nine poems are borrowed from the Diagram Prize, an award given out by the U.K. magazine, "The Bookseller," for the oddest book title of the year. The titles chosen -- an example is "Highlights in the History of Concrete" -- may sound frivolous, even absurd, but the poems are less or more so. The serious nature of their themes being at odds with their titles gives them an engaging tension, and will be read as signature of his particular brand of polari.
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