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Exploring the Basics of the Bible

, 2002


Digital list price: $10.99
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The first step to a truly enriching study of the Bible is understanding its origins, purpose and necessity. This introductory book explores—and answers—important questions that many wonder about: Who wrote the Bible? How was it written? Why should I believe in this antiquated book? What about its contradictions and problems? It concludes with vital chapters on Bible study helps and methods and a list of resources for enrichment. Any Christian who cares to know more about, and draw more deeply from, the Book of books will thoroughly benefit from this encouraging work.

From the Publisher

The Scriptures are God's Word to us. We should personally read them, study them, meditate upon them and, most of all, practice them. But the first step to a truly enriching study of the Bible is understanding the basics behind it. This gives every believer not only a deeper appreciation for the wonder of God's Word, but also a foundation for apologetic discussions in the future.

This introductory book explores important questions that many wonder about: Who wrote the Bible? How was it written? Why should I believe in this antiquated book? What about its contradictions and problems? R. Laird Harris answers these questions and more. He also includes questions to provoke further exploration. And the book concludes with vital chapters on study helps and Bible study methods, as well as a list of resources for enrichment. The beginning Christian will thoroughly benefit from this encouraging work.

Product Details

  • Title: Exploring the Basics of the Bible
  • Author: Robert Laird Harris
  • Publisher: Crossway
  • Publication Date: 2002

Robert A. Harris is associate professor of Bible at The Jewish Theological Seminary, teaching courses in biblical literature and commentary, particularly medieval Jewish Biblical exegesis. Over the years, Dr. Harris has served JTS in a variety of roles, including assistant to the director of The Library, JTS professor-in-residence at Camp Ramah in the Poconos, and as a gifted director of musical-theater productions at JTS. An expert in the history of medieval Biblical exegesis, Dr. Harris’s dissertation was titled The Literary Hermeneutic of Rabbi Eliezer of Beaugency. In 2004, Dr. Harris published a book in the Brown Judaic Studies series, Discerning Parallelism: A Study in Northern French Medieval Jewish Biblical Exegesis. In addition, he has published many articles and reviews in both American and Israeli journals. Dr. Harris regularly delivers papers at academic conferences, such as the International Medieval Congress and the World Congress of Jewish Studies; many of these addresses have resulted in scholarly publications in various academic journals. Dr. Harris also lectures on biblical narrative and Jewish liturgy in congregations and adult education institutes around the country. One of his most popular series is “Unfolding the Text: An Introduction to Jewish Medieval Bible Commentaries” (the first chapter of which is entitled “I Peshat the Torah!”); Dr. Harris is currently at work on a book on this subject. Other topics include “Murder, They Wrote,” a study of Biblical murder narratives; “Threes Become Four: How the Maxwell House Haggadah Became a Canonized Text”; and “That Kislev Affair: What Really Happened at Hanukkah?” Dr. Harris’s forthcoming books include Rabbi Eliezer of Beaugency’s commentary on Amos and Jonah (with selections from Isaiah and Ezekiel). Dr. Harris has served as a rabbi in several congregations in the United States and Israel, including the Pelham Jewish Center in Westchester County, New York, and Moriah Synagogue in Haifa. For the past several years, he has taught in the Meah Program, the renowned adult-education course administered by the Boston Hebrew College. Dr. Harris spent 1995-97 as a visiting scholar at the Bible Department of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and returned there again in the summer of 2007 as a Visiting Associate Professor. Dr. Harris is past president of the Society for the Study of the Bible in the Middle Ages, a constituent organization of the International Medieval Congress. In 2004 and 2007, he taught in Moscow at JTS’s Project Judaica at the Russian State University for the Humanities. Dr. Harris regularly performs with his garage band, SR2 (Shake, Rabbis and Roll), and composes original rock and roll. In 2006, he and his band completed a second studio CD (Keep Your Day Job!) and also issued a live album (Live at Primetime). The band’s 2003 release, Tales from the Upper West Side, according to the humorous Dr. Harris, reached the nonexistent “aluminum” category on the music charts. A former actor who performed in musical and dramatic productions in the New York area, Dr. Harris is past director of Theater at Camp Ramah in Wisconsin. There, he translated more than a dozen musical comedies into Hebrew. Dr. Harris also directed musical productions in Hebrew at JTS as well as in Jewish schools around the metropolitan area. He has continued his interest in musical theater by producing concert versions of Gilbert and Sullivan operettas each year for charitable causes. In the early ‘90s, Dr. Harris did stand-up comedy at New York’s Stand Up, New York Dr. Harris is a graduate of the Joint Program between JTS and Columbia University, having received a BA in Ancient Studies from Columbia and a BHL in Talmud from JTS. He also received an MA in Judaica, MPhil in Bible, rabbinical ordination, and a PhD from JTS. Dr. Harris’s wife, Nellie, is a Jewish educator, and the two are the proud parents of daughters Naamah and Merav.


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  1. Sakarias Ingolfsson
    This is a review on the style of the book, rather than an evaluation the facts stated in it. The description of the book (above) states that it is meant for the beginning Christian. Throughout the book, and especially in the later chapter, this seems apparent. The study questions in the end of each chapter also suggest that the book could be used in small bible study groups. Still in several locations the book uses terminology and style that to my understanding would better suit the intermediate bible college student. Sadly there is a lack of consistency, and while some chapters are very basic and readable to most, others are more technical and seem to assume that the reader has at least some basic knowledge of theology. Often times I also find that the author mentions far too many aspects in the very breaf text. Rather than helping the rader understand, I believe this causes confusion. I still enjoyed reading this small book. Mostly because of the frequent devotional tone. The author is not objective in his treatment of different theological views, which is not neccesarily a bad thing. He may oversimplify the big picture sometimes, for example by deviding christians into conservative and liberals (meaning perhaps faithful and unfaithful). His objective seems clear though: To guide new christians to a bible study which will help them grow in their faith, in stead of reading material that will break it down. A few quotes: "Without a real and true word from heaven, people are lost in a sea of human opinion and moral weakness" (p14) "The crowning miracle of all, Christ's resurrection, is totally unexplainable by natural means" (p70) "Whey teach your children to keep the Ten Commandments if the commandments themselves bear false witness to Moses' experience with God on Sinai?" (p79) "The greatest secret of Bible study is simply to do it!" (p100)


Digital list price: $10.99
Save $2.00 (18%)