It is sometimes said that the Bible is one of the most unread books in the world, yet has been a major force in the development of Western culture and continues to exert an enormous influence over many people's lives. This Very Short Introduction looks at the importance accorded to the Bible by different communities and cultures and attempts to explain why it has generated such a rich variety of uses and interpretations. It explores how the Bible was written, the development of the canon, the role of Biblical criticism, the appropriation of the Bible in high and popular culture, and its use for political ends.
John Riches is Professor of Divinity and Biblical Criticism at the University of Glasgow. His published work includes The World of Jesus: First Century Judaism in Crisis and A Century of New Testament Study.