The Edited Bible

The Edited Bible

The Curious History of the Editor in Biblical Criticism

by John van Seters

Hardback Publication Date: 31/01/2006

"There is a generally accepted notion in biblical scholarship that the Bible as we know it today is the product of editing from its earliest stages of composition through to its final, definitive and 'canonical' textual form. So persistent has been this idea since the rise of critical study in the seventeenth century and so pervasive has it become in all aspects of biblical study that there is virtually no reflection on the validity of this idea" (from the Introduction). Van Seters proceeds to survey the history of the idea of editing, from its origins in the pre-Hellenistic Greek world, through Classical and Medieval times, into the modern era. He discusses and evaluates the implications of the common acceptance of "editing" and "editors/redactors" and concludes that this strand of scholarship has led to serious misdirection of research in modern times."The Edited Bible" is one of those rare books that appear from time to time, which remove from the banquet table the water goblet of reigning theories and replace it with plentiful food for thought.
Van Seters' first aim is to unmask the unproved hypotheses that (consciously or unconsciously) underly our conceptions of the growth of the biblical books and the transmission of the biblical text. His arguments are based on a rigorous analysis of the ancient sources with regard to the production and transmission of literary documents, especially in Greece and Rome and early Christianity, as they relate to the composition and transmission of the "Hebrew Bible".Van Seters analyzes the practice of copying in ancient Greece and in the schools of Alexandria, Pergamum, and Rome in the Hellenistic and Roman periods. Second, Van Seters scrutinizes Classical and biblical scholarship from the Renaissance until the present time. The leit-motiv of the monograph is clearly formulated in the following quotation from p. 15: 'When biblical scholars began to imagine how the biblical texts first came into being, they used themselves as the models for the persons who brought these texts together.'
Biblical studies & exegesis
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