Richard Elliott Friedman and the Bible

Relevance for Today in Yesterday’s Bible Scholarship

Richard Elliott Friedman and the Bible

Bible scholar Richard Elliott Friedman believes that the tools and methods developed in good Bible scholarship should now be applied in new ways to the Bible: relevance for understanding and discussing the hot topics of modern times, for example.

When it comes to the Bible, relevance of this ancient text to today’s modern issues and concerns is a major question on people’s minds. Since it’s clear that millions of people still care about what the Bible has to say, Biblical scholar Richard Elliott Friedman argues that these opinions should be informed by good, careful Bible scholarship. In “The Bible Then—The Bible Now,” Richard Elliott Friedman talks about how decades of developing and refining the tools and methods of Bible scholarship have been important and necessary advancements, but they shouldn’t remain locked in an ivory tower. The general public should know how they sometimes change and challenge our understanding of the Biblical text.

Bible scholar Richard Elliott Friedman believes that the tools and methods developed in good Bible scholarship should now be applied in new ways to the Bible: relevance for understanding and discussing the hot topics of modern times, for example.

Archaeology, linguistics and textual criticism—all of which are essential parts of thorough Bible scholarship—can shed important light on today’s controversial topics, such as capital punishment, abortion, homosexuality, women’s status and the environment. Everyone from pastors to politicians is talking about these hot-button issues, calling on the authority of the Bible, relevance (if any) of the Bible in today’s society, and what the Bible has to say about them. As Richard Elliott Friedman stresses, good Bible scholarship has an essential role in these discussions.

Without taking sides on most of the issues, Friedman discusses how a careful study of the Bible can contribute to a better understanding of what the text really says—and doesn’t say. On the environment, however, he says that the message in the Bible is clear: As humans we are the stewards of this planet, and we should not abuse our power over it.

 


 

Read more about this important new approach toward Bible scholarship in Richard Elliot Friedman’s “The Bible Then—The Bible Now,” Biblical Archaeology Review, September/October 2011.

Posted in Archaeologists, Biblical Scholars & Works, Bible Interpretation.

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6 Responses

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  1. Dennis says

    I read his book on Bible Authorship; it was excellent, and worth every penny.

  2. Ipswitch says

    When I read Friedman’s words, “It doesn’t matter who wrote the Bible; it matters who reads it”, I just had to snort. I mean, if it was a Sabbath, and I was standing next to my non-Jewish girlfriend about to grill my bacon cheeseburger, and I suddenly wondered who wrote the Bible, it bloody well WOULD matter who wrote the Bible.

  3. Sigh says

    Well, you missed the point. what it teaches is more important than who authored it

  4. Ipswitch says

    Sigh, you’re not quite understanding. You’re obviously choosing between different human authors. If you’re choosing between a human author and God, then would you *still* say it doesn’t matter who is giving directions for your life?

  5. Robert says

    It matters A LOT who wrote it. The gospels are a coverup of the Mastership of a successor to ‘Jesus’, that’s the result of not knowing. James the Just is the successor, in multiple sources, including brand new ones, the Dead Sea Scrolls Pesherim (Eisenman’s analysis) and the Nag Hammadi texts like the Apocalypses of James.

  6. Richard E. says

    From Richard Elliott Friedman: I’m afraid that there has been a misunderstanding here. I never wrote the words attributed to me here (“It doesn’t matter who wrote the Bible; it matters who reads it”). At the end of WWTB the last sentence was “The question, after all, is not ONLY who wrote the Bible, but who reads it.” I hope this helps. With good wishes to all, REF


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