Modern critical study of the Bible in the West has made a deep impact on the fabric on Christian belief. This book explains what interpretation is and what special issues arise in biblical interpretation. It analyses the development of literary and historical criticism and more recentsocial-scientific and literary approaches, by focusing on the key figures from Reimarus to Gerd Theissen, and exposes the underlying theological issues. There emerges a pattern in the relationship between religious interests in these texts and the rational methods used to interpret them, providingguidance for a theologically sensitive use of the Bible today. An annotated index provides detailed information on some 250 biblical scholars and other interpreters.