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Do religious writings make sense to any reader who does not accept the reality of the deities to which they refer? Do Christians understand the Old Testament better than the Jews understand their Bible? The Bible, argues this book, may belong to the Church or synagogue as an instrument of religious practice, but as an object of academic study it belongs to the world as a whole., and as such can function in theory and practice as a secular discourse. A number of exegetical studies suggests that a genuinely academic discourse about biblical writings - one that distances itself from received canons of interpretation - can expose a subtext of deceit within the Creation narratives, re-conceptualize the relationship between Abraham and his deity, reveal lament psalms as texts of oppression, and identify the death of Daniel's God. In a new chapter, Davies evaluates how the film Monty Python's Life of Brian contributes to 'Life of Jesus' research. Here is a challenge to conventional biblical scholarship and a bid to define and establish a genuine academic discipline of biblical studies.
Philip Davies is Professor of Biblical Studies at the University of Sheffield. He is well known for his publications on Qumran and the Dead Sea Scrolls and is author of the highly acclaimed in Search of Ancient Israel.