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Hebrew Studies 41 (2000) 242 Reviews ONE BIBLE, MANY VOICES: DIFFERENT APPROACHES TO BmLICAL STUDIES. By Susan E. Gillingham. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdrnan's Publishing Co., 1998. Pp. xx + 280. Paper, $19.00. At first glance this book may appear to be an addition to an already crowded field of biblical introductions, but its approach and assumptions differ substantially from most of the older models. As the title of her convenient new book implies, Gillingham is concerned to introduce students to the plurality of the Bible's interpreters, both early and modem. Yet her task is more than that. Gillingham sets out to acquaint students with the many points of view found within the Bible itself. In this respect, the "many voices" Gillingham speaks of are those of the biblical interpreters and those of the biblical authors themselves. When some scholars discuss the plethora of authors, interpreters, and approaches, there are hints of despair . So many readers, so many readings. But Gillingham is enthusiastic about living in a postmodem world. She views the heterogeneous text that is the Bible as an asset, rather than as a problem, for biblical studies. Along with the early interpreters, she would affirm that no single approach to reading the Bible can do justice to its complex history and content. There are at least as many different ways of understanding the scriptures as there were people involved in their composition. The work is divided into two major parts. Part One, composed of four chapters, addresses the diversity of the Bible and its long history of transmission . Chapter I, "A Biblical Library? The Smaller Parts of the Greater Whole" (pp. 9-26), demonstrates the disparate and diffuse nature of the biblical accounts-especially with respect to the complex process by which the biblical text, in this case the Old and New Testaments, acquired its fmal form. Chapter 2, "A Biblical Theology? Two Testaments, One Book?" (pp. 27-45), examines the theological diversity found in both the Old and the New Testaments. The point of chapters 3, "A Biblical Corpus? The Canon and the Boundaries of Faith" (pp. 46-71), and 4, "A Biblical Text? The Variety of Versions" (pp. 72-113), is to examine the process by which the collection of biblical books was received after its fmal form-with different versions and different texts being used by different communities. Hence, the book's first half provides not only theological, historical, and literary insights into the development of the scriptures, but also discussions of each of the traditional approaches to biblical interpretation. The second part of the book, composed of five chapters, is more evaluative, assessing the ways in which readers today might interact with Hebrew Studies 41 (2000) 243 Reviews "many-sided" biblical texts. Chapter 5, "Theological Approaches to the Bible" (pp. 117-143), illustrates the enonnous variety of theological approaches to reading the Bible that have been fonnulated since the time of the New Testament. Most of these emanate from a particular religious tradition , but more recent versions have also emanated from secular settings. Chapter 6, "Historical Approaches to the Bible" (pp. 144-170), surveys the various historical methods used in reading both the OT and the NT. The seventh chapter, "Literary Approaches to the Bible" (pp. 171-186), surveys some major literary approaches and studies how each of these has developed and changed considerably over the last two centuries. One of the premises behind these chapters is that some sort of integration of three approaches -theological, historical, and literary-is necessary to achieve a balanced reading. Gillingham advocates a pluralistic reading of scripture that, in balancing the best from each approach, fully acknowledges the many voices that speak within the Bible. The fmal two chapters seek to work out this theory of pluralistic readings by way of one extended illustration. Chapter 8, "The Many Voices in the Psalms" (pp. 187-231), introduces students to the Psalter, itself a complex body of literature and a clear model of the many different ways a group of important literary texts have been appropriated in early, medieval , and modem times. Chapter 9, "From Theory to Practice: Readings of Psalm 8" (pp. 232-244), functions as a pluralistic...

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Additional Information

ISSN
2158-1681
Print ISSN
0146-4094
Pages
pp. 242-244
Launched on MUSE
2011-10-05
Open Access
No
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