208: The Voice, the Word, the Books by F. E. Peters

by Gerard


208.2: Peters, F.E. The Voice, the Word, the Books: The Sacred Scripture of the Jews, Christians, and Muslims. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2007. 276 pp. ISBN 978-0-691-13112-2.

Dewey Construction:

  • 200: Religion
  • 208: Sources
  • 208.2: Sacred books and scriptures

I’ve just received and cataloged by yearly Christmas Amazon haul, and now I’m overloaded with books in religion sections, so three of these next four will be in that class. Today’s book is good for anyone starting in biblical or scriptural studies. F.E. Peter’s The Voice, the Word, the Books helps to explain the chronology, the context, and the ideologies of the Tanakh, the New Testament, and the Quran.

I found this book to be immensely helpful. Every time I read a book on religious texts, I always find out something new. In this one, for example, I discovered that the suras of the Quran are not in any real order. Nor are they the complete recitations of Muhammad. Each sura could be the amalgamation of two different recitations, blended together to create a whole thought. This makes the life of Muhammad incredibly hard to study (from a strictly scriptural point-of-view) as parts of each verse could come from a different time in his life. There is even an entire branch of Quranic study devoted to the “Occasions of Revelation” which tries to piece together when and how each word was revealed to Muhammad.

Better still, Peters gives the reader a guided historical understanding of how each collection came about, how they were handled by the early believers, and how history has interacted and changed the texts of each holy book. While finished this one in a couple of days, I would not advise that method for anyone else. If you’re going into scriptural studies, then you need to spend a lot of time with book (as well as many others) to really get a feel for each book’s origins. I, however, found it to be a very interesting stepping off point for other books in my collection. I may even—one day far off in the future—read the entire Bible. Clearly, I enough to chew on for the time being.