Scripture and Its Interpretation

A Global, Ecumenical Introduction to the Bible


1. The Bible: A Book, a Library, a Story, an Invitation

Reviewing the Chapter

  1. What physical materials were used in the production of the Bible and the subsequent manuscripts of it?
  2. In what ways is the Bible both one book and many books?
  3. In which languages was the Bible written?
  4. What is the controversy over what names to give the two parts of the Christian Bible, and why does that controversy exist?
  5. Describe the different canons of the Bible: Jewish, Protestant, Roman Catholic, and Orthodox. What are the main differences among them?
  6. What are the origins and functions of dividing the books of the Bible into chapters and verses? What are the possible limitations of such divisions?
  7. In what sense is the Bible a single story?

Engaging a Central Issue

Respond to the following claim Paul Zilonka and Michael Gorman make in this chapter (p. 20):

We might even think of the Bible . . . as an invitation to a surprise party—a party at which we are the ones surprised: surprised by what we find in its pages, surprised by what others have found and how they have understood those findings, and even surprised at what happens to us as we read the Bible in the company of others, whether living or dead, whether like us or very different from us.

Questions for Reflection and Discussion

  1. What were some of the new facts about, and perspectives on, the Bible that you encountered in this chapter?
  2. Do you think it is important to be aware of the various biblical canons and of the issues involved in the name(s) we give to the Bible and its two main divisions? Why or why not?
  3. Do you think it is important to think of the Bible as both a single book with a grand story and a library that includes various types of literature and diverse contents? Why or why not?
  4. What, in your mind, is the relationship between a faith perspective and serious academic study of Scripture?