b o o k s



"answering questions you might never have thought of"  -- The Boston Globe

"brilliant, twisted, imaginative" -- Publishers Weekly

"entertaining, quirky, and surprisingly thoughtful" -- Booklist

"a definitively open-minded professor of religion" -- New York Times Book Review

"Beal demonstrates that erudition and knowledge can go together and

find their way to readers everywhere." -- Elie Wiesel



T H E   R I S E 

A N D   F A L L 

O F   T H E   B I B L E

The  Unexpected  History

of an  Accidental  Book

A radical reimagining of the Bible, past, present, and future. It’s the end of the Word as we know it. There's no going back. But there is a way forward. The End of  the Word is a hopeful word.


"This amazing book will make you see the Scriptures in a new light. Beal shows us that the origins of the Bible are messy and shaped by chance, but also that the Bible still can move us and needs to be taken seriously.

Thou shalt read Beal."

                                            -- A.J. Jacobs

"Beal's exciting book offers both fascinating history and a new and insightful way to approach the 'sacred text'."

                             -- John Shelby Spong


Publishers Weekly STARRED REVIEW:

"The role of the Bible in Western culture is undisputed. It has defined the Judeo-Christian ethic in so many ways it’s hard to imagine the Western world without this inspired book. However, as Beal so eloquently explains, the specific role played by Holy Scripture has morphed over the years. In particular, it has taken on the role of “cultural icon”—inerrant guide, big brother, worthy oracle. This is a new phenomenon: witness the number of specialty Bibles available in Christian bookstores. Raised in a strict, religiously literalist home, Beal (Roadside Religion), a professor of religion at Case Western Reserve University, has evolved into a top-notch scholar who makes a compelling case against the idea of a fully consistent and unerring book, positing instead a very human volume with all the twists and foibles of the human experience, truly reflecting that human experience. He presents a convincing case for a radical rereading of the text, an honest appreciation of this sacred book. An engrossing and excellent work, highly recommended."






B U Y   I T   N O W

Barnes & Noble







"A lot of us know just enough about the Bible to make us dangerous. Tim Beal wants to take us deeper in our understanding - not just about what the Bible says, but about what it is, and how it came to us in its many current forms. Under Beal's instruction, we will lose some of our naiveté, but we'll gain maturity of insight that will more than compensate. A needed book from a talented writer."

                                  -- Brian D. McLaren

"Partly autobiography, partly social scientific research, partly shrewd discernment, and partly theological interpretation, Tim Beal has written a zinger of a book about the cultural history of the Bible. This welcome and important book will cause a pause before we make glib claims for "the Word of the Lord."

                              -- Walter Brueggemann

"The Bible, an infallible book of answers to all life's questions? Timothy Beal demolishes that claim using the texts themselves, and offers the vision of a productive future in which the biblical process of argumentation will thrive in the digital environment."

                                          -- Bruce Chilton



"In his well-received Biblical Literacy (2009), Beal explored ways to think about Bible stories and how they have become ingrained in our culture. Here he discusses the Bible as a book and as a cultural icon. Writing in a remarkably accessible style (so accessible that it’s easy to miss the profundity of the ideas behind the words), [Beal] exhorts readers to see the Bible not as a book of finite answers but as a crucible of questions that provoke, inspire, and even anger those who pick it up. The same might be said about his own book."

                                           --Ilene Cooper


"The author’s attempt to reclaim a sense of the Bible as a rich source of history and spiritual depth is refreshing given today’s mass-marketing of scripture. The narrative is well-written and engaging ...
A laudable look at the Good Book."

                                          -- Kirkus


now in paperback



The Essential Bible Stories

Everyone Needs to Know

A fun and engaging one-stop course on the Bible's greatest cultural hits for religious and non-religious readers alike.


"With skill and insight, Timothy Beal has given us a great gift: a lucid and engaging introduction to the most important book ever published."

-- Jon Meacham






"For those who are approaching the Bible for the first time … there is no better place to turn than Timothy Beal's Biblical Literacy. Here you will find numerous gems of the Jewish and Christian Scriptures, along with pithy, helpful, and at times even witty, introductions." -- Bart D. Ehrman

"No book has shaped more culture, value and meaning [than the Bible]. Beal skillfully retells key biblical narratives but also cogently relates them to significant events in history. This is a readable, informative and timely book." -- Harvey Cox

"Tim Beal has written about the rich, thick connections between the Bible and popular culture … In a society of deep and dangerous disconnects, the connects of this book serve exceedingly well." -- Walter Brueggemann


A Very Short Introduction

It's hard to think of a single aspect of American culture, past or present, in which religion has not played a major role. The roles religion plays, moreover, become more bewilderingly complex and diverse every day. For all those who want--whether out of curiosity, necessity, or civic duty--a vivid picture and fuller understanding of the current reality of religion in America, this Very Short Introduction is the go-to book they need.




With visual aids that help readers navigate America's diverse religious landscape, this informative, thoughtful, and provocative book is a must-read in the emerging public conversation concerning religion in America.


One of the Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press.


In Search of the Sacred, the Strange, and the Substance of Faith

Publishers Weekly's Best Religion Books of 2005

New York Times Book Review Editor's Choice

Featured on NPR's All Things Considered and The Bob Edwards Show

"a generous and intelligent guide to some of the most unusual expressions of faith that grace the American landscape" -- Body and Soul

"full of good humor, and Beal doesn't patronize the creators of these attractions but accords them respect and dignity" -- Booklist

"full of gentle humor, ... uncovers serious questions about religion and its sometimes highly singular practitioners"
-- Publishers Weekly, starred review



An exploration of religion as horror, and of horror as religion. Don't let sleeping Leviathans lie.

Editor's Choice, Reviews in Religion and Theology

Publishers Weekly starred review

"Imaginatively written, entertaining, and well researched, this work of creative scholarship is a fascinating read." -- Choice

"This is scholarship in cultural analysis at its best: well-documented, thought-provoking, and funny. Its crisp writing almost fools you into thinking it's simple. But it does what it says: it raises profound questions that survive their answers ... A bravura piece of what binds the cultural disciplines together." -- Mieke Bal

"Historically informed, theologically astute, culturally savvy. This monstrously provocative book demonstrates that religion is never more fascinating than when it is most disturbing." -- Mark C. Taylor


Gender, Ethnicity, Annihilation, and Esther

"A must for all interested in the scroll of Esther, literary study of biblical narrative, and the many ways biblical studies and critical theory might engage each other." -- Religious Studies Review

"a splendid exhibit of the new place we are in"
-- Walter Brueggemann

'Timothy Beal's sensitive interpretation of the enchanting yet disturbing 'Book of Esther' is a gift to students and teachers of Scripture. Though the mystery of the 'hiding' remains intact, the character's emerge in a new light, weaving a story that responds to our need for enchantment." -- Elie Wiesel

"For those who want to know what difference theory can make to biblical studies, The Book of Hiding is an example of the very best of current work." -- Yvonne Sherwood



co-authored by William E. Deal

Drawing on their complementary knowledge of Eastern and Western religious traditions, William Deal and Timothy Beal offer succinct and accessible introductions to key theoretical influences on religious studies since the 1960s. Here is an essential guide to the figures and ideas animating religious studies today.

"Clear, crisp and cogent: all words the reader will use to describe this superb new reference book on contemporary theories and the study of religion.... theory is a way of seeing, of viewing a subject in order to understand. The authors help us to see religion in many new ways by providing overviews of contemporary theories and their usefulness in viewing religion. Undergraduates, graduate students and faculty members will find this an excellent introduction to contemporary theories and to new ways of understanding religion."
-- Rebecca Chopp


A commentary on the biblical book of Esther, published together with Tod Linafelt's commentary on the book of Ruth. Part of the series Berit Olam: Studies in Hebrew Narrative and Poetry.




Selected as a primary resource by Presbyterian Women,the national women's organization of the Presbyterian Church (USA) for a year devoted to studying the fascinating, strangely familiar book of Esther.


Religion, Popular Culture,
and The Passion of The Christ

co-edited with Tod Linafelt

Afterlives of the Bible book series

Whether you're inspired or appalled by The Passion of the Christ, there can be no question that it is a defining moment in the cultural afterlife of the Bible. This volume tries to make sense of that moment and will prove to be a touchstone for the film's adherents and detractors alike.

Ideal for college courses on topics related to religion, film, and popular culture, this volume includes accessible and eye-opening essays by leading scholars, including Thomas J.J. Altizer, Bruce Chilton, John Dominic Crossan, Paula Fredriksen, Susannah Heschel, Amy Hollywood, Mark Jordan, Jack Miles, Margaret R. Miles, Richard L. Rubenstein, Jane Schaberg, George Smiga, and Mark C. Taylor, among many others.

co-edited with Tod Linafelt

A tribute to the biblical theology of mentor Walter Brueggemann

" This volume engages the work of Walter Brueggemann by centering on the character of God in the text of the Old Testament as a site of theological tension and even ambivalence. Walter Brueggemann's monumental theology of the Old Testament addresses this fact with great theological insight and

rigor, and these internationally renowned biblical scholars engage and extend his insights into the "unsettled Character . . . at the center of the text."

Includes contributions from Phyllis Trible, James Barr, Norman K. Gottwald, Claus Westermann, Rolff Rendtorff, Samuel Terrien, David M. Gunn, and many others, as well as a final essay by Walter Brueggemann himself.



Identity and The Book

co-edited with David M. Gunn

In conversation with critical theory and cultural studies, this collection of essays by leading biblical scholars explores the fraught relations between the Bible and the politics of identity in contemporary society.


"This intelligently conceived collection simultaneously lays hold of the body in the text and the body of the text and refuses to let them go until they have disclosed some of their most unsettling secrets." -- Stephen D. Moore

"A break-out book that takes readers to the edges of biblical studies and beyond" -- Burke O. Long

  Copyright © 2007 Timothy K. Beal  

coming spring 2010: