Who wrote Great Expectations? That’s easy: Charles Dickens. Who’s the author of Beloved? Toni Morrison, of course. Now how about the Old Testament?

You’d think for a book as widely known, studied, and distributed as the Bible, the question of authorship would have been sorted out by now. But the question is more complex (and fascinating) than it seems. Why? Because asking it is to challenge everything we might assume about the Bible’s identity as a book, about what “writing” and “authorship” really mean, and about how a written text could become sacred to Jews and Christians, both in the ancient world and today.

Biblical expert Martien A. Halvorson-Taylor, Associate Professor of Religious Studies and Co-Director of the Religion, Race & Democracy Lab at the University of Virginia, works through these fascinating questions (and their related assumptions) in Audible’s new short course, Writing the Bible: Origins of the Old Testament. Halvorson-Taylor travels back in time to explore how oral traditions — ancient songs and stories — shaped the identity of an emerging nation, Israel, and how those traditions came to be written down, reinterpreted, and gathered into a collection of books that resonate with us even now.

The Old Testament reflects the profundity and timelessness of human experience. It has the power to shape our sense of our own lives, to frame our fears, and to inspire our ultimate hopes. What could be more interesting than finding out who, exactly, we should thank for that?

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