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Engaging the Christian Scriptures, 2nd Edition

An Introduction to the Bible

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This readable and faith-friendly introduction to the Bible aids students as they engage in their first informed reading of the biblical text in an academic setting. The authors, who have significant undergraduate teaching experience, approach the Christian Scriptures from historical, literary, and theological perspectives.

The book is designed for a one-semester course and is meant to be read alongside the biblical text, enabling students to become educated readers of the Bible. In the process, it introduces critical perspectives and approaches without undermining the theological claims found in the Christian Scriptures. Text boxes, illustrations, maps, and suggestions for further reading are included.

This new edition incorporates professor and student feedback, adds a glossary, has been revised throughout, and is supplemented by updated and expanded web-based pedagogical resources.


1. Places to Begin
Why Read the Bible?
How Did We Get the Bible?
How Shall We Read the Bible?
Suggested Reading
Part One: The Old Testament
2. Pentateuch
The Old Testament World
Primeval History
Ancestral Stories
The Composition of the Pentateuch
Exodus and Covenant
Sojourn in the Wilderness
Theological Reflection: Creation and Covenant
Suggested Reading
3. Former and Latter Prophets
Historical and Social Contexts of the Prophets
Settlement in the Land
Movement to Monarchy
The Latter Prophets
Exile and Beyond
Theological Reflection: Crises of Monarchy and Exile
Suggested Reading
4. Writings
The Context of the Writings
The Psalms
The Wisdom Books
The Five Scrolls
Theological Reflection: Faith and Culture
Suggested Reading
Part Two: The New Testament
5. Between the Testaments
Sociohistorical Developments
Jewish Beliefs and Religious Practices in Antiquity
Greek and Roman Beliefs and Religious Practices in Antiquity
Suggested Reading
6. The Gospels and the Acts of the Apostles
The World of the Gospels
The Genre and Literary Tradition of the Gospel
The Gospel according to Mark
The Gospel according to Matthew
The Gospel according to Luke
The Gospel according to John
The Acts of the Apostles
Theological Reflection: Unity and Diversity
Suggested Reading
7. Paul and the Pauline Tradition
Paul's Life, Ministry, and Letters
The First Letter of Paul to the Thessalonians
The Letter of Paul to the Galatians
The First Letter of Paul to the Corinthians
The Second Letter of Paul to the Corinthians
The Letter of Paul to the Romans
The Letter of Paul to the Philippians
The Letter of Paul to Philemon
The Pauline Tradition
Theological Reflection: The Contours of Paul's Theology
Suggested Reading
8. The General Letters and Revelation
The World of Early Christians
The Letter to the Hebrews
The Letter of James
The First Letter of Peter
The Second Letter of Peter and the Letter of Jude
The Johannine Letters
The Revelation to John
Theological Reflection: A Fitting Conclusion
Suggested Reading
Conclusion: Overarching Story of the Christian Scriptures


"From cultural and geographical backdrops, to literary and rhetorical features, to canonical and theological connections, Engaging the Christian Scriptures immerses students in the Bible, introducing tools necessary for reading Scripture well. After setting the stage with 'Places to Begin,' the chapters address relevant textual content, interpretation, and theological implications. Helpful charts and illustrations throughout distill complex concepts, and suggestions for further reading offer supplements for students who want to dig deeper. Finally, the glossary compiles terms introduced in boldface within the textbook, providing quick access to concise explanations. From beginning to end, the authors carefully facilitate student learning and exploration. Informative and accessible, this textbook is an excellent companion for study of the Christian Scriptures."

Kathy Maxwell, chair of biblical and theological studies, Palm Beach Atlantic University

"Engaging the Christian Scriptures navigates well the challenges of beginning academic study of the Bible. It introduces the Bible's foreignness without making it inaccessible, critical approaches without allowing them to steal the spotlight from the Bible itself, the distinct witness of the Hebrew Bible without minimizing the New Testament's claims to continuity with it, the Bible as an object of study without silencing its personal address, and debate about its meaning without making it impenetrable. The second edition builds on these strengths. The electronic resources included with the book aid teacher and student alike in following the clear path the authors have blazed through this pedagogical thicket. Rarely have I received such praise from my students for a textbook choice; but it is Arterbury, Bellinger, and Dodson who deserve the credit for producing an accessible and, yes, 'engaging' introduction to the Bible."

Will Kynes, associate professor of biblical studies, Samford University

"This readable and accessible introduction to the Bible is a breath of fresh air for faculty and students tackling the seemingly insurmountable task of learning about the entire Christian Bible in a single semester. A helpful guide designed to be read alongside the Bible rather than instead of it, Engaging the Christian Scriptures is a friendly and thoughtful introduction not only to the biblical text but to its composition, historical contexts, literary elements, and theological possibilities. This revised edition boasts expanded materials on the biblical writings and contexts, as well as updated suggested readings and a complete glossary to guide readers. This textbook will continue to be a valuable resource in a variety of classrooms, introducing students to the Bible and inspiring them to dig more deeply into its contexts and to interpret it in theologically responsible ways."

Alicia D. Myers, associate professor of New Testament and Greek, Campbell University Divinity School

The Authors

  1. Andrew E. Arterbury

    Andrew E. Arterbury

    Andrew E. Arterbury (PhD, Baylor University) is professor of Christian Scriptures at Truett Theological Seminary, Baylor University, in Waco, Texas.

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  2. W. H. Bellinger Jr.

    W. H. Bellinger Jr.

    W. H. Bellinger Jr. (PhD, University of Cambridge) is professor of religion emeritus at Baylor University. He has served on the editorial board of Catholic Biblical Quarterly and has written several volumes on the Psalms.

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  3. Derek S. Dodson
    Courtesy of Baylor University

    Derek S. Dodson

    Derek S. Dodson (PhD, Baylor University) is senior lecturer in religion at Baylor University.

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