Would you please explain more on the differences between Biblical history and theology? Is it difficult as an historian to keep these separate in your personal beliefs?


I was all set to write up an answer to this question, but then as I was plotting it out, it occurred to me that I was just going to say what I had already said in the Excursus to the first chapter of my Bible Intro. And so I’ve decided just to give that. I hope you don’t mind! If there are further questions from anyone, or need for clarification, do let me know.

Here’s what I tell my student-readers at the beginning of the book, to explain the difference between a theological (or confessional) approach to the Bible and a historical approach.



Most of the people who are deeply interested in the Bible in modern American culture are committed Jews or Christians who have been taught that this is a book of sacred texts, Scripture, unlike other books.  For many of these – especially many Christian believers – the Bible is the inspired word of God.  In communities of faith that hold such views, the Bible is usually studied not from a historical perspective by situating it in its own historical context, or in order to learn about its discrepancies and inconsistencies, or in order to learn that it may have historical mistakes in it.  You yourself may find the historical approach to stand at odds with what you have been taught to believe.  If so, then it is for you in particular that I want to provide these brief additional reflections in this excursus.

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