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Book Group

New Book Group beginning February 15

Why the Bible Began: An Alternative History of Scripture and its Origins

Jacob L. Wright

"A revelation, even to those who have read the Bible for a lifetime!

"We witness how in the aftermath of catastrophic defeat and devastation, the biblical authors fashioned a new form of political community--one in which a shared body of texts provided common ground for deeply divided communities and the marginalized in their communities. At the heart of the Hebrew Bible is, as Wright shows, not a creed but a What does it mean to be a people? In our time of deepening divisions, both this question and the ways in which these ancient writers addressed it deserve renewed, and serious, attention."

-- Robert M. Franklin, President Emeritus, Morehouse College


Why did no other ancient society produce something like the Bible? That a tiny, out of the way community could have created a literary corpus so determinative for peoples across the globe seems improbable.

For Jacob Wright, the Bible is not only a testimony of survival, but also an unparalleled achievement in human history. Forged after Babylon's devastation of Jerusalem, it makes not victory but total humiliation the foundation of a new idea of belonging. Lamenting the destruction of their homeland, scribes who composed the Bible imagined a promise-filled past while reflecting deeply on abject failure. More than just religious scripture, the Bible began as a trailblazing blueprint for a new form of political community. Its response to catastrophe offers a powerful message of hope and restoration that is unique in the Ancient Near Eastern and Greco-Roman worlds.

[For Wright] the Bible is thus a social, political, and even economic roadmap - one that enabled a small and obscure community located on the periphery of leading civilizations and empires not just to come back from the brink, but ultimately to shape the world's destiny. The Bible speaks ultimately of being a united yet diverse people, and its pages present a manual of pragmatic survival strategies for communities confronting societal collapse.

"Sure to elicit much discussion and debate, this is a must read by one of the most interesting and provocative scholars working today."

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