The Bible

A Global History

Coming Soon


By Bruce Gordon

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$45.00 CAD

A global history of the world’s best-known and most influential book

For Christians, the Bible is a book inspired by God. Its eternal words are transmitted across the world by fallible human hands. Following Jesus’s departing instruction to go out into the world, the Bible has been a book in motion from its very beginnings, and every community it has encountered has read, heard, and seen the Bible through its own language and culture.  
In The Bible, Bruce Gordon tells the astounding story of the Bible’s journey around the globe and across more than two thousand years, showing how it has shaped and been shaped by changing beliefs and believers’ radically different needs. The Bible has been a tool for violence and oppression, and it has expressed hopes for liberation. God speaks with one voice, but the people who receive it are scattered and divided—found in desert monasteries and Chinese house churches, in Byzantine cathedrals and Guatemalan villages. 
Breathtakingly global in scope, The Bible tells the story of this sacred book through the stories of its many and diverse human encounters, revealing not a static text but a living, dynamic cultural force.

  • “Smoothly capturing a sprawling and complex history, Gordon frames the Bible as a cultural artifact and a dynamic site where identity is negotiated; a force that binds communities; and an arena where foreign influences are contested. The result is a fascinating look at how the ‘most influential book in the world’ came to be.”
    Publishers Weekly (starred review)
  • “An approachable history suitable for lay readers.”
  • “What I loved best about this book—aside from the elegant prose and the abundance of startling facts—is the sense of a strong, wise mind behind it. Bruce Gordon has written a book that will engage anyone interested in the Bible, which is anyone interested in human history.”
    Christian Wiman, author of Zero at the Bone
  • “A wonderful book. A highly comprehensive guide to the worldwide reception of Scripture.”
    John Barton, author of A History of the Bible
  • “This extraordinary book is both a stupendous intellectual achievement and a marvelously accessible guide that will delight everyone interested in how the Christian texts became the Bible, and why it has played such an enduring role in reading and worship in the millennia since.”
    Andrew Pettegree, coauthor of The Library
  • “Even the best-informed readers will have much to learn from Bruce Gordon’s erudite and accessible history of the Bible, which ranges knowledgeably across eras and Christian traditions, and indeed across continents. It deserves to find the widest possible audience.”
    Philip Jenkins, author of The Next Christendom
  • “With stunning prose and relentless insight that could only come from this rightly celebrated historian, Bruce Gordon has given us the book that we need at this moment, a real history of the Bible. In Gordon’s capable hands, the Bible becomes a sojourner through history who constantly makes history, and through whom history can be fruitfully understood in all its depths. This book is, quite simply, an intellectual feast.”
    Willie James Jennings, author of The Christian Imagination
  • “If the word of God is alive, it has now met its best modern biographer. Filled with surprises, and sometimes aching with beauty, this is a book to take you wide-eyed round the world and then lead you back to that old leatherbound volume on your shelf.”
    Alec Ryrie, author of Protestants
  • “This is the best survey yet written of the global transmission, and impact, of the world's most influential book. The Bible is readable enough to be enjoyed by anybody, while any expert is likely to learn something new from it.”
    Ronald Hutton, author of The Witch
  • “This is a stunning love song to the Bible. Bruce Gordon has managed the rare feat of telling a complicated story that spans two thousand years in an engaging and accessible way. His book brings new perspectives and a fresh energy to the rediscovery of the Bible and how it has been shaped and reshaped by countless communities in different decades and centuries around the world. It made me want to savor this precious book of books even more, and it reignited my enthusiasm for telling the unknown stories about its nature and origins. In years to come, this will be a classic text for anyone intrigued by the most popular book of all time.”
    Chine McDonald, author of God Is Not a White Man
  • “This is a beautifully written exploration of the journey of the Bible, as the most influential book in the world. It goes from manuscripts to translations, from antiquity to the contemporary world, from the Mediterranean to Africa and China. It shows how the Bible, in all its richness, plays multiple roles: used for good or ill, and certainly as a tool for colonialism. Yet, the Bible is vitally important in the twists and turns of world history, as is shown everywhere in the pages of this fascinating narrative.”
    Joan E. Taylor, Professor of Christian Origins and Second Temple Judaism, King’s College London
  • “From papyrus and purple-painted parchment, through six centuries of print and forward as far as the network-free app, Bruce Gordon guides us on the boundless, unending odyssey of the ‘Book of Books.’ The Bible is a testament to the power not only of Scripture but of the written word itself to connect humanity, to educate, liberate, and also to repress. Gordon bears witness to the individual lives leavened by the ever-changing form of the ‘Book of Life,’ from Frederick Douglass to the football fans of today’s South Africa. This is a compelling account of two millennia of Western book culture, and the places and, above all, the people the Bible has touched.”
    James G. Clark, Professor of History, University of Exeter

On Sale
Sep 17, 2024
Page Count
528 pages
Basic Books

Bruce Gordon

About the Author

Bruce Gordon is Titus Street Professor of Ecclesiastical History at Yale Divinity School and has an appointment in Yale’s department of history. He is the author of the biographies Calvin and Zwingli: God’s Armed Prophet, and of a number of other books on the history of Christianity. Raised in Canada, he lives in Vermont.

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