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The Bible for the Curious

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This book is for anyone curious about the Bible: what it is, and what modern research reveals about it. Unlike most textbooks, it has no footnotes, avoids technical discussion as much as possible, and makes no assumptions about religious belief. Its aim is to introduce the contents a way that engages readers critically, and to persuade them that in a modern secular society this collection of ancient writings can still contribute to the way we think about history, philosophy and politics. It is a challenge to both those who regard it as ‘word of God’ and those who dismiss it as obsolete or myth or irrelevant.

Published: Nov 1, 2018

Section Chapter Authors
List of Figures, Maps and Charts Philip Davies†
Part One: Bible Basics
1. Approaching the Bible Philip Davies
2. Who Wrote the Old Testament and How? Philip Davies
Part Two: Stories of Israel
3. The Old Testament and History Philip Davies
4. The Biblical Stories of Israel Philip Davies
5. A History of Ancient Israels Philip Davies
Part Three: Stories of Jesus Christ
6. Ancient Judaisms Philip Davies
7. The Gospels Story Philip Davies
8. The Acts of the Apostles Philip Davies
9. The New Testament Letters Philip Davies
10. Revelation: The End of the Story Philip Davies
Part Four: Philosophy, Ethics and Piety
11. Divination: Prophecy & Apocalyptic Philip Davies
12. Law, Wisdom and Prayer Philip Davies
Postscript Philip Davies
End Matter
Index Philip Davies


Over-inquisitive children are often warned that ‘curiosity killed the cat’. But children of all ages, when curious about the Bible, may safely be encouraged to explore its varied contents and growth in this readable book by a noted scholar. Itself something of a ‘curiosity box’, it both informs and challenges.
Professor Graeme Auld, School of Divinity, University of Edinburgh

This is the book I would have written had I the intelligence and skill-of-pen that Professor Davies possesses. I will require it for all of my undergraduate courses in both Old and New Testament. It is much needed, and even more appreciated.
Professor Jim West, Pastor, Petros Baptist Church, and Lecturer, Ming Hua Theological College / Charles Sturt University

Philip Davies has bequeathed to us one last book, now published after his untimely death. The Bible for the Curious bears all the markings that have made him one of the foremost biblical scholars of the past half century – mastery of the historical and literary materials, cogent and forthright engagement with knotty problems, clarity of thought, and eminently readable prose. In this book Davies widens his field of vision to include not only the Hebrew Bible and the Dead Sea Scrolls but the New Testament as well. This fresh discussion is highly recommended for specialists and other interested readers.
Douglas A. Knight, Drucilla Moore Buffington Professor of Hebrew Bible, Emeritus, and Professor of Jewish Studies, Vanderbilt University

The importance of this last work of Davies, well illustrated with maps, charts, and photographs, is that it raises for the would-be reader of the scriptures the questions that must be asked. Davies does not provide all the answers, but he does open up a now sadly neglected part of our literary and spiritual heritage, and shows in a neutral but encouraging way how not merely the curious, but the serious enquirer, should embrace it.
Church Times

An impressive achievement and reveals how readers become believers, how believers can become readers, and how a recognition of how scholarly approaches to scriptures can contribute in bringing Biblical scholarship to life. It seems fair to ask, how can I use these brilliant notions of the Bible within my own classroom, as a theological educator? Indeed, Davies’ work has manifested his objective in creating new possibilities to understand present actualities.
Reading Religion

The late Philip Davies (professor of biblical studies, University of Sheffield) knew his Bible well, and in this introduction his deep knowledge of the history and contents of the Bible is on good display.
The Bible Today

This posthumous publication is a brief overview of what has happened in biblical studies since the Bible changed from being a sacred text into a factor in Western civilisation. It aims to persuade members of a modern secular society that the Bible still contributes to how we think about history and politics. The chapter on ‘Ancient Judaisms’ is an excellent introduction, and will surprise many of its intended readers.
Society for Old Testament Study Book List 2020