David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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OUP USA (2010)
The Bible has always been a contested legacy. Form late antiquity to the Refomation, debates about the Bible took place at the center of manifold movements that defined Western civilization. In the eigtheenth century, Europe's scriptural inheritance surfaced once again at a critical moment. During the Enlightenment, scholars guided by a new vision of a post-theological age did not simply investigate the Bible, they remade it. In place of the familiar scriptural Bibles that belonged to Christian and Jewish communities, they created a new form: the academic Bible. In this book, Michael Legaspi examines the creation of the academic Bible. Beginning with the fragmentation of biblical interpretation in the centuries after the Reformation, Legaspi shows how the weakening of scriptural authority in the Western churches altered the role of biblical interpretation. In contexts shaped by skepticism and religious strife, interpreters increasingly operated on the Bible as a text to be managed by critical tools. These developments prepared the way for scholars to formalize an approach to biblical study oriented toward the statist vision of the new universities and their sponsors. Focusing on a renowned German scholar of the period, Johann David Michaelis (1717-1791), Legaspi explores the ways that critics reconceived authority of the Bible by creating an institutional framework for biblical interpretation designed to parallel-and replace-scriptural reading. This book offers a new account of the origins of biblical studies, illuminating the relation of the Bible to churchly readers, theological interpreters, academic critics, and people in between. It explains why, in an age of religious resurgence, modern biblical criticism may no longer be in a position to serve as the Bible's disciplinary gatekeeper.
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