The Bible as we know it today is best understood as a process, one that begins in the tenth century BCE. In The Making of the Bible: From the First Fragments to Sacred Scripture (Harvard University Press, 2021), a world-renowned scholar of Hebrew scripture joins a foremost authority on the New Testament to write a new biography of the Book of Books, reconstructing Jewish and Christian scriptural histories, as well as the underappreciated contest between them, from which the Bible arose.
Recent scholarship has overturned popular assumptions about Israel’s past, suggesting, for instance, that the five books of the Torah were written not by Moses but during the reign of Josiah centuries later. The sources of the Gospels are also under scrutiny. In this book, Dr. Konrad Schmid and Dr. Jens Schröter reveal the long, transformative journeys of these and other texts en route to inclusion in the holy books. The New Testament, the authors show, did not develop in the wake of an Old Testament set in stone. Rather the two evolved in parallel, in conversation with each other, ensuring a continuing mutual influence of Jewish and Christian traditions. Indeed, Schmid and Schröter argue that Judaism might not have survived had it not been reshaped in competition with early Christianity.
The book argues that the Bible is the result of diverse developments that unfolded over many centuries. It is not a homogeneous document but reflects a multiplicity of different viewpoints on the God of Israel and his interventions in history. And finally, the Bible generated a rich history of reception and interpretation that Jews and Christians alike should keep constantly in mind when trying to understand the Bible, interpret it, and live with it and according to its precepts.
A remarkable synthesis of the latest Old and New Testament scholarship, the book is the most comprehensive history yet told of the world’s best-known literature, revealing its buried lessons and secrets.
This interview was conducted by Dr. Miranda Melcher whose doctoral work focused on post-conflict military integration, understanding treaty negotiation and implementation in civil war contexts, with qualitative analysis of the Angolan and Mozambican civil wars.