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Scripture and Its Interpretation

A Global, Ecumenical Introduction to the Bible

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Top-notch biblical scholars from around the world and from various Christian traditions offer a fulsome yet readable introduction to the Bible and its interpretation. The book concisely introduces the Old and New Testaments and related topics and examines a wide variety of historical and contemporary interpretive approaches, including African, African-American, Asian, and Latino streams. Questions for reflection and discussion, an annotated bibliography, and a glossary are included.

This book is accompanied by free online resources. Click the red eSources banner above for more information.


Michael J. Gorman
Part 1: The Bible
1. The Bible: A Book, a Library, a Story, an Invitation
Paul P. Zilonka and Michael J. Gorman
2. The Setting: Biblical Geography, History, and Archaeology
Karen J. Wenell
3. The Scriptures of Israel (The Christian Old Testament)
Claire Mathews McGinnis
4. The Writings of the New Covenant (The New Testament)
Michael J. Gorman
5. Significant Noncanonical Writings
Christopher W. Skinner
6. From Books to Library: The Formation of the Biblical Canons
Michael W. Holmes
7. From There to Here: The Transmission and Translation of the Bible
Michael L. Barré
Part 2: The Interpretation of the Bible in Various Traditions and Cultures
8. The Reception of the Bible and Its Significance
Christine E. Joynes
9. Premodern Interpretation of the Bible
Carole Monica C. Burnett
10. Modern and Postmodern Methods of Biblical Interpretation
Joel B. Green
11. Theological Interpretation of the Bible
Stephen Fowl
12. Protestant Biblical Interpretation
Michael J. Gorman
13. Roman Catholic Biblical Interpretation
Ronald D. Witherup
14. Orthodox Interpretation of Scripture
Edith M. Humphrey
15. Pentecostal Biblical Interpretation / Spirit Hermeneutics
Craig S. Keener
16. African Biblical Interpretation
Bungishabaku Katho
17. African American Biblical Interpretation
C. Anthony Hunt
18. Latino/Latina Biblical Interpretation
M. Daniel Carroll R.
19. Asian and Asian American Biblical Interpretation
K. K. Yeo
Part 3: The Bible and Contemporary Christian Existence
20. The Bible and Spirituality
Patricia Fosarelli and Michael J. Gorman
21. Scripture and Christian Ethics: Embodying Pentecost
Brent Laytham
22. The Bible and Politics
Christopher Rowland
23. Scripture and Christian Community
Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove
24. The Bible and Christian Mission
N. T. Wright


"This book is a treasure-house of resources for teachers and students of the Bible, as well as for anyone who wants to become more deeply informed about the collection of texts that are Sacred Scripture for the Christian church. Written by a lineup of distinguished scholars, the volume provides balanced attention to history and hermeneutics, with particular attention to the reception of the biblical writings in various global and ecclesial contexts. I am not aware of any other book that packs so much valuable information about the Bible into such a concise and readable form. Its essays demonstrate the distinctive, twofold character of fine teaching: they are accessible for serious introductory study while, at the same time, full of mind-expanding perspectives for readers who may have studied the Scriptures for a lifetime."

Richard B. Hays, George Washington Ivey Professor Emeritus of New Testament, Duke Divinity School

"Scholarly yet eminently accessible to the nonspecialist, this work is enlightening both as a historical introduction to the Bible and as an overview of how it has been read from ecumenical, intercontinental, and thematic perspectives. An invaluable tool for beginners as a way to situate themselves in the world of the Scriptures and as a resource to set the convictions of the experienced in a more inclusive context. A tour de force!"

Brother John, Taizé Community, France

"This is an excellent introduction to the Bible, going well beyond the basic issues of who wrote when, where, and why. It sets out clearly the complex process of how particular writings (and not others) became designated as canonical; poses challenging questions about how Scripture is, can, or should be interpreted; and provides a fascinating account of how biblical interpretation has developed within the various denominations and different parts of the world. The volume is a strong reminder to readers of the extent to which their own reading of and response to the Bible has been shaped by their often very different cultures and traditions. It demonstrates that when the Bible is read in different contexts, it has a richness of relevance that individuals in their own contexts rarely appreciate--revealing what a truly catholic reading actually involves."

James D. G. Dunn†, Emeritus Lightfoot Professor of Divinity, Durham University

"This beautifully produced volume merits a place in the library and on the teaching agenda of every church and seminary. All adult students of Scripture, from beginners to the most experienced, could benefit from this multifaceted yet theologically coherent collection of essays, which is both historically grounded and thoroughly contemporary in outlook."

Ellen F. Davis, Amos Ragan Kearns Distinguished Professor of Bible and Practical Theology, Duke Divinity School

"I welcome this unique and much-needed volume. Biblical interpretation in service of the church is necessarily conditioned by the many possible locations of an interpreter, including where she or he comes from geographically and culturally and the interpreter's particular Christian tradition. This volume gathers outstanding, concerned, and passionate authors from many places and from numerous Christian confessions who introduce the text of the Bible, various interpretative traditions, and the Bible's relevance for contemporary Christian life. Scripture and Its Interpretation is a unique attempt to cross as many interpretative and cultural bridges as possible and provides rich information for the reader on 'how the Bible is read elsewhere.' All of us, from professor to undergraduate student, have much to learn from this book."

Francis J. Moloney, SDB, senior professorial fellow, Catholic Theological College, University of Divinity, Melbourne, Australia

"This interesting and helpful volume describes not only the contents of the Bible but also the many and various ways that people have interpreted the Bible from antiquity to the present in many different Christian communions. It would be a valuable companion to any introductory course and a helpful guide to any beginning reader."

George L. Parsenios, Princeton Theological Seminary

"The apostle Paul spoke of the church as having many gifts but one Spirit and as being one body with many members. The same might be said of the Bible itself--one book with many parts and dimensions. That is the premise of this exceptional introduction to Sacred Scripture and its interpretation. Essays by an ecumenical and international team of scholars illustrate in a vivid and effective way the complex composition of the Scriptures, the many-faceted reception they have received over the centuries, and the rich variety of methods of interpretation among those religious traditions that revere the Bible. In a world where some fear diversity, this volume demonstrates that authentic interpretation of the Bible champions both diversity and unity."

Donald Senior, CP, president emeritus and professor of New Testament, Catholic Theological Union

The Author

  1. Michael J. Gorman

    Michael J. Gorman

    Michael J. Gorman (PhD, Princeton Theological Seminary) is the Raymond E. Brown Professor of Biblical Studies and Theology at St. Mary's Seminary & University in Baltimore, Maryland. He formerly served as dean of the Ecumenical Institute of...

    Continue reading about Michael J. Gorman


"There are many introductions to the Bible, but few with an explicitly global and ecumenical emphasis that also includes considerable attention to interpretation. In a fresh volume edited by Michael Gorman (St. Mary's Seminary), Scripture and Its Interpretation delivers just that special combination. . . . Few dimensions are left unaddressed, and readers are left with a particularly rich understanding about this marvelous anthology of literature called the Bible. Scripture and Its Interpretation is unique, highly useful, clearly written, up-to-date, and enlightening. It is written from a broader Christian perspective and tone that virtually any self-identifying Christian can appreciate. It probably fits best as a text for an introductory seminary course on the Bible, perhaps supplemented by some primary-source readings of biblical texts themselves. Much appreciation towards all who brought this wonderful book into existence. Highly recommended."

Jamin Andreas Hübner,

Canadian-American Theological Review

"The authors come from the four major branches of Christianity: Catholic, Orthodox, Protestant, and Pentecostal; and represent countries and cultures from around the world. . . . This finely produced volume will be highly useful for serious study groups and introductory courses."

Peter J. Judge,

Catholic Biblical Quarterly

"Gorman, joined by an impressive array of twenty-two other scholars, takes the reader on a delightful journey, providing brief, but informative overviews on a wide range of interpretive issues. . . . The volume concludes with an extensive glossary and helpful Scripture, Subject, and Author indexes. In addition to these resources, each section and each chapter include questions for further reflection and suggested readings for further study. . . . Gorman has successfully and enjoyably brought together a group of diverse scholars and topics to present a global, ecumenical introduction to the Bible. The reader will not be disappointed at having spent the time investing in this volume."

Chuck Sackett,

Englewood Review of Books

"A particularly useful element of the book is a section at the end of each chapter with questions for reflection and discussion, and a bibliography for further reading and study. This volume is primarily an introduction to the interpretation of Scripture and would serve well as a complement to sustained engagement with Scripture itself."

John R. Barker, OFM,

The Bible Today

"This collective introduction to the Christian Bible results from the collaboration of 22 scholars representing a variety of faith traditions and social contexts. . . . The volume is illustrated throughout with a variety of tables, maps, photos, and reproductions of religious artwork."

Old Testament Abstracts

"This is a substantive project, both in quantity and quality. In terms of quantity, this volume serves, in many ways, as a 'one-stop-shop' textbook for biblical interpretation. It provides significant discussion of introductory matters. . . . In terms of quality, this volume brings together some of the finest thinkers in Christian academia . . . while also providing voice to those who may not be as commonly known in Western circles. Each chapter is significantly researched and written well. Each chapter also ends with reflection questions, which can prove useful to a hermeneutics instructor, and with an annotated list of follow-up reading."

Rob O'Lynn,

Stone-Campbell Journal

"The originality of its design, its wealth of information, its breadth, and its accessible language make [this book] stand apart among the large number of general introductions to the Bible available to readers. . . . The second part explains the reception and the interpretation of the Bible in various traditions: Protestant, Roman Catholic, Orthodox and Pentecostal traditions, and African, African-American, Latinx, and Asian/Asian-American interpretations. Gorman acknowledges lumping together various currents of interpretation in the case of Africa and Asia, but he is to be commended for including these traditions in a one volume introduction to the Bible."

John C. Endres,

America magazine

"The contributors are diverse, and their selection of topics reveals a vital church with manifold ways of interacting with the Bible. . . . Chapters include discussion questions and reading lists for further study. The book also is enhanced by a glossary and dozens of images and tables. Both intellectual rigor and a devotional posture are evident throughout the book. . . . An excellent introduction to students, church members, and interested Christians who want to benefit from learning how other believers through time and space have interpreted Scripture."

Abram Kielsmeier-Jones,

Bible Study Magazine

"An impressive volume of biblical scholarship that is thoroughly 'reader friendly' in organization and presentation, Scripture and Its Interpretation is unreservedly recommended for church, seminary, community, and academic library Biblical Studies collections."

Midwest Book Review

"A tour de force collection of introductory essays aimed to familiarize readers with the Christian Bible form a historical and hermeneutical perspective. The book includes essays by an extraordinary group of contributors from around the globe, including representation from four major theological traditions: Catholic, Orthodox, Protestant, and Pentecostal. The scope of the book is complemented by a balanced and informative approach to the task of introductory study. . . . The essays are accessible for the purpose of introductory study, but the breadth of the contained essays effectively offers an expanded number of perspectives untreated or overlooked in other introductions. . . . Both the glossary and bibliography are welcomed additions to an already impressive volume. . . . I could not recommend this book more highly."

John Kight,

Sojourner Theology blog

"Getting acquainted with the world of biblical scholarship, and seeking to relate to the Bible seriously as both a subject of rigorous, critical study and as a means of encounter with God, can sometimes be a difficult task. The essays gathered together in Scripture and Its Interpretation: A Global, Ecumenical Introduction to the Bible seek to make the path into the realm of scholarly biblical studies less steep. . . . For those working towards cultivating [the] kind of reading approach . . . that takes both the modern world and Christian spirituality seriously, Scripture and Its Interpretation makes for a fairly solid starting place, and it's worth taking the time to read with a pen in hand."

Joe Crowe,

Tabletalk Theology blog