Reading The Bible

“The Bible is very widely revered because of its status as the Word of God, but it is also a remarkable work of literature, that is, on the whole, exceptionally accessible and engaging.” Reading the Bible, Session I

The Bible can be intimidating and confusing for any reader. In these two sessions Professors Harry Attridge and John Collins help us to think about some of the issues that cause these feelings. Learning about the amazing and inspiring literature that is the Bible will enrich the understanding of any seeker of spirituality.

Session 1 helps us understand the historical time in which the Bible was recorded. It discusses the evolution of modern thinking from the view of the Bible as “history” to a more modern understanding as humankind’s view God.

Session 2 tackles the presentation of violence, patriarchy, slavery, and sexual behavior which has provided so much challenge. The history of the Bible, the writings of the Old Testament, and Jesus’ teaching are considered together in a way that fosters greater understanding of the messages in the Bible.

Taken together this material greatly supports the reader’s ability to access and embrace an incredible and inspirational piece of literature, moving from a view of Bible as history to a broader understanding.

Session and Title
(click for 
written materials)


 I. History and Literature Click Here
II. Ethical Issues Click Here
Further Reading

Meet Our Professors


Harry Attridge, Lillian Claus Professor of New Testament, has made scholarly contributions to New Testament exegesis and to the study of Hellenistic Judaism and the history of the early Church.  He has published numerous books, authored book chapters and articles in scholarly journals, and has edited 11 books, including Hebrews: A Commentary on the Epistle to the HebrewsFirst-Century Cynicism in the Epistles of HeraclitusThe Interpretation of Biblical History in the Antiquitates Judaicae of Flavius JosephusNag Hammadi Codex I: The Jung Codex, and Psalms in Community.  Dean Attridge has been an editorial board member of Catholic Biblical Quarterly, the Harvard Theological Review, the Journal of Biblical Literature, and the Hermeneia Commentary Series.  Before coming to Yale, Dr. Attridge was Professor of New Testament Studies and Dean of the College of Arts and Letters at Notre Dame. He has served as president of the Society of Biblical Literature since 2001. He holds degrees from Boston College (A.B.), Cambridge University (B.A., M.A.), Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and Harvard University (Ph.D.).

John J. Collins, Holmes Professor of Old Testament Criticism and Interpretation, a native of Ireland, was a professor of Hebrew Bible at the University of Chicago from 1991 until his arrival at YDS in 2000. He previously taught at the University of Notre Dame. He has published widely on the subjects of apocalypticism, wisdom, Hellenistic Judaism, and the Dead Sea Scrolls. He has participated in the editing of the Dead Sea Scrolls and is general editor of the Yale Anchor Bible series. He holds degrees from University College Dublin (BA, MA, and an honorary D.Litt.) and Harvard University (PhD).