The Cambridge Companion to the Bible (Companions to Religion)
Publisher Cambridge University Press
The Cambridge Companion to the Bible, Second Edition focuses on the ever-changing social and cultural contexts in which the biblical authors and their original readers lived. The authors of the first edition were chosen for their internationally recognized expertise in their respective fields: the history and literature of Israel; postbiblical Judaism; biblical archaeology; and the origins and early literature of Christianity. In this second edition, all of their chapters have been updated and thoroughly revised, with a view towards better investigating the social histories embedded in the biblical texts and incorporating the most recent archaeological discoveries from the Ancient Near East and Hellenistic worlds.
The Cambridge Companion to the Bible, now in its second edition, “provides in-depth information and analysis on the canonical writings of the Hebrew Bible and New Testament, as well as the apocryphal works produced by Jewish and Christian writers” (iv). For the reader, the book “seeks to provide basic knowledge of the cultural contexts in which the biblical books were produced, including the history, languages, and religious beliefs and philosophical insights of the writers, the people they wrote about, and the audiences for whom they wrote.” In order to accomplish this, the Companion focuses solely on background material—document and source histories, archaeological discoveries, and sociohistorical contexts—and tries to stay above the interpretive fray so that the work may be useful to readers from any or no tradition (2). The book also presents its information to the reader in a conspicuously anthropocentric style in order to avoid deciding what, if anything, related to the Bible has divine origins. Unlike many other Bible reference books, the Companion is organized not by biblical book order but by chronological periods roughly linked to biblical genres. The authors follow a running-narrative rather than encyclopedic style and write in fluid prose, making it very accessible to lay readers. Numerous pictures of artifacts, texts, and geographies dot each section of the book, along with plenty of charts, illustrations, maps, and even some full-color plates. There is a great deal of interaction with the Dead Sea Scrolls, extracanonical texts, and other ancient Near Eastern literature, with few anachronistic readings. [Full Review]