Editors note: Timothy Beal is the author of "The Rise and Fall of the Bible: The Unexpected History of an Accidental Book." He is a Florence Harkness Professor of Religion at Case Western Reserve University.
"Trying to save the Bible by recovering the Adam of all Bibles is as futile as trying to save the marriage by recovering the Eden of married life. There’s no such thing, so there’s no going back. Our desire for a pure, unadulterated, original Bible, “in the beginning,” is an illusion that shields and distracts us from the real, unstable, often terrifyingly ambiguous relationship with another that is the life of faith.
Life is crazy uncertain, so it’s understandable that many of us want religion and especially the Bible to offer deliverance from it. But it doesn’t. It’s not a rock but a river, not a book of answers but a library of questions. When we take it seriously, and soberly, it calls us deeper into the wilderness – away from the sunny shoreline of the island and toward the uncharted interior.
That wilderness, like the ones in which the Israelites wandered and Jesus was tested, can be a place of danger and disorientation, but also of renewal and reawakening."