No one can doubt that the Bible has exerted a tremendous influence on Western civilization since the dawn of Christianity. But few of us have considered the precise nature of that influence in particular historical contexts. In this book, David Kling traces the fascinating story of how specific biblical texts have at different times emerged to be the inspiration of movements that have changed the course of history. By examining eight such pivotal texts, Kling elucidates the ways in which sacred texts continue to shape our lives as well as our history. Among the passages he discusses are: * "Upon this rock I will build my church" (Matthew 16:18), which inspired the formation of the papacy and has served as its foundation for centuries * "The righteous will live by faith" (Romans 1:17), which caught the imagination of Martin Luther and sparked the Protestant Reformation * "Go to Pharaoh and say to him, 'Thus says the Lord: Let my people go, so that they may worship me'" (Exodus 8:1), which has played an important and diverse role in African American history from early slave spirituals through the modern civil rights movement and beyond * "There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus" (Galatians 3:28), which has been adopted by feminists as a rallying cry in the battle for women's ordination Each of the historical episodes he explores--from the beginning of Christian monasticism to the emergence of Pentecostalism--is evidence of the dynamic interplay between Scripture and the social and cultural context in which it is interpreted. Kling's innovative study of this process shows how sacred texts can give life to social movements, and how powerful social forces can give new meaning to Scripture.
"[David W. Kling] has many good stories to tell, and he tells them very well. His informative and often entertaining survey illustrates a fascinating approach to biblical studies and to history in general."--America
"Always fascinating and entertaining, Kling's account of the Bible in history is sure to increase your appreciation and understanding of the Bible's impact in the world."--Singing News
"David Kling has attempted a foolhardy thing--he has tried to illuminate the ubiquitous presence of the Bible in Western history by treating only eight specific texts as they have been understood across the centuries. Remarkably, the book succeeds and succeeds very well. By attending carefully to multiple, often contradictory interpretations of Holy Scripture, Kling explains a very great deal about those who have put the Bible to use. He may explain even more about the enduring attraction of Scripture itself." --Mark A. Noll, author of Americas God: From Jonathan Edwards to Abraham Lincoln
"David Kling has written a fascinating and accessible account of the way in which biblical texts left their mark in the history and culture of the past. The book focuses on crucial moments in Christian history from the origin of monasticism to the ordination of women and on key figures from Bernard of Clairvaux to Martin Luther. The result is a readable and informative introduction to the history of biblical interpretation, which both beginning students and advanced scholars can read with profit."--David C. Steinmetz, Amos Ragan Kearns Professor of the History of Christianity, The Divinity School, Duke University
"David Kling's book takes the Bible seriously as the church's book at the same time as it shows how the church has interpreted the Bible differently over time. Kling's book will help Christians and others understand how the church's understanding of the Bible has both shaped and been shaped by history."--Timothy Weber, President, Memphis Theological Seminary
"Kling writes so fluently, elegantly, and with such clarity of purpose that readers who are unfamiliar with church history will still find most of the detailed arguments accessible. Similarly, readers who are unfamiliar with scholarly approaches to the Bible will find this an entrancing survey of how key texts have been understood differently across time by faithful Christians. Yet the book is based on such a huge amount of scholarship, marshalled so carefully by the author, that theologians, church historians, and specialists in biblical studies will also frequently find valuable insights here." --John Sullivan, Liverpool Hope University