November 20, 2023

The Hebrew Bible: Defining Scriptural Cultures

Event Series: Cultural Encounters: Books that Have Made a Difference

Showing the The Hebrew Bible: Defining Scriptural Cultures Video

The bold claim from Biblical historians and archaeologists Israel Finkelstein and Neil Asher Silberman that the Hebrew Bible is the “single most influential literary and spiritual creation in the history of humanity” (made in their book The Bible Unearthed: Archaeology's New Vision of Ancient Israel and the Origin of Its Sacred Texts [2001]) articulates the extensive influence that it has had both geopolitically and religioculturally. Yet, simply referring to this literary collection as the Hebrew Bible exposes the tensions and conflicts surrounding its production and reception. In this talk, Rev. Bruno J. Clifton, O.P., argued that it is worth casting a critical eye over this book’s history, the parameters of the collection, and the type of literature it contains in order to evaluate the nature of its influence.

This lecture sought only to set out what is at stake, hoping to stimulate further reflection on the wider cultural and spiritual impact of the Bible on humanity.

This event was sponsored by the Future of the Humanities Project, the Georgetown Humanities Initiative, and Blackfriars Hall, Oxford. It is part of the year-long series, Cultural Encounters: Books that Have Made a Difference.


Rev. Bruno J. Clifton, O.P.

Rev. Bruno J. Clifton, O.P.

Rev. Bruno J. Clifton, O.P., is vice-regent of Blackfriars Hall and Studium, Oxford. He is director of Blackfriars’ visiting students program and course director of Master of Theology in applied theology degree courses. He also teaches scripture and Biblical languages. Clifton earned his doctorate at the University of Cambridge. His research interests include investigating how concepts of identity are influential on the formation of biblical texts as socially authoritative and the contribution of critical biblical scholarship to theology.

Michael Scott

Michael Scott

Michael Scott (moderator) is senior dean, fellow of Blackfriars Hall, Oxford, college advisor for postgraduate students, and a member of the Las Casas Institute. He also serves as senior advisor to the president of Georgetown University. Scott previously served as the pro-vice-chancellor at De Montfort University and founding vice-chancellor of Wrexham Glyndwr University, where he is professor emeritus.