Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Unauthorized Version: Truth and Fiction in the Bible” as Want to Read:
The Unauthorized Version: Truth and Fiction in the Bible
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Unauthorized Version: Truth and Fiction in the Bible

3.78  ·  Rating details ·  287 ratings  ·  35 reviews
The author of Pagan and Christians examines the scriptures as history, myth, and literature, explaining their inconsistencies and locating their core of truth. "Unfailingly incisive, thought-provoking, humane."--The Economist.
Paperback, 478 pages
Published June 1st 1993 by Vintage Books USA (first published 1991)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.
This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.78  · 
Rating details
 ·  287 ratings  ·  35 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of The Unauthorized Version: Truth and Fiction in the Bible
Jul 30, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A fascinating introduction to Biblical studies, showing how the texts that make up the Bible we have are amalgamations of many sources, how many prophecies from Isiah etc were later additions tailored to explain to the populations of the two ancient Kingdoms of Judah and Israel why their histories were unfolding as they were, and above all to preserve a unique sense of identity in an unstable world.

Of course, all this would according to Christians and Jews from their respective standpoints be s
Steven Peterson
Nov 04, 2009 rated it really liked it
This is a fascinating book by a scholar of the classics, Robin Lane Fox. A recent book of his, "The Classical World: An Epic History from Homer to Hadrian," is very nicely done. His historical competence is pretty clear-cut. The premise of this book is straightforward: the Bible is internally inconsistent and, externally, on a number of occasions inconsistent with known history. He forthrightly notes that he is not a believer, so that one can account for his own religious views as they evaluate ...more
Apr 12, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Someone I hike with saw that I was reading this book, and asked if I was an atheist. I said that no, I'm a Christian. She was surprised that I would spend time reading an atheist/academic's critique of the Bible, so I said that it would be pointless to only read stuff I knew ahead of time I would agree with. She apparently has a pretty low opinion of most Christians' intellectual curiosity, which tells me that she doesn't know many.

I actually became an admirer of Robin Lane Fox when I read his 1
Andrew Schirmer
Nov 03, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: english, history, religion
From earliest years right into manhood, like any other nonconformist child I had the Bible poured every day into my helpless consciousness, till there came almost a saturation point. Long before one could think or even vaguely understand, this Bible language, these 'portions' of the Bible were douched over the mind and consciousness, till they became soaked in...And I must confess, my first reaction is one of dislike, respusion, and even resentment. My very instincts resent the Bible.

--D.H. Lawr
Stephie Williams
Jul 12, 2015 rated it liked it
Fox has written a smooth and easy to read narrative with some insightful comments. That's the best I can say. His historical interpretation appears to rely on few if any primary sources. Practically all works cited are of secondary sources with no knowing if they rely on primary sources themselves. From other works that do rely on primary sources I find that Fox's hypotheses are suspect about what in the Bible can be considered historical. First and foremost is the texts that are relied on are f ...more
Shane Moore
I'm interested in this subject, and there were lots of tidbits of information, but the author's presentation of it was almost unbearably dry and slow.
Erik Graff
Sep 16, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fox fans
Recommended to Erik by: no one
Shelves: religion
I've read a number of classical historian Fox's books before as well as some of his articles on gardening in the London Financial Times and enjoyed them. This, his attempt to engage the Judeo-Christian canon as embodied in its King James edition (why that outdated text? Just because he, Fox, was raised with it?) as an historian of the period, was not so enjoyable.
Other historians of the period have approached the bible from the same perspective and done so, in my opinion, better. One thinks, f
Daniel B-G
Jul 10, 2017 rated it did not like it
Shelves: r-m, dnf
Drab, lifeless explanation with condescending tone throughout.
Oct 22, 2019 rated it it was ok
I feel responsible for this mistake because I was in no way prepared enough for this book.

Robin Lane Fox is one of my favourite authors but I had never before tackled deep biblical analysis. In fact, I only read this book because it was by Robin Lane Fox. Let me just say, you must have a tremendous understanding of the bible and the time period to make it through just a couple chapters of this.

While I lacked in the knowledge of the bible itself, I am well equipped in the history of the time per
Dan Sumption
I found the history of the books of the Old Testament particularly enlightening.
Crystal Hunter
Apr 24, 2017 rated it liked it
Worth the read.
Apr 17, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2015
A mirror of a fallen man That's what Robin Lane Fox calls the Bible, whose mix of facts and fiction he traces in this densely written book, which he describes as "a historian's view of the Bible".
Covering everything from Genesis to Revelations, he makes it clear where the various authors get their history wrong (almost all of the time), but, despite being an atheist himself, he also stresses their goals and motivations in writing (and editing) the texts that comprise the Bible. He also goes fur
Joey Brockert
May 07, 2015 rated it really liked it

Mr. Fox has done a lot of interesting studying for this work. He brings together a lot of various analysis and other readings of the Bible and comments on his choices of what is actually true or possible that is written about in the Bible. In the Introduction he does admit to not believing in God, but he does believe (admire?) in the Bible. He is honest and admits when he goes against the grain of scholarly works, o you can take what he says with a grain of salt. He does weave a good argument a
Hmmm - I think I have a problem with RLF's writing style (I had the same issue with his Into to the Classical World) he is an erudite and well well respected academic yet this book at time wanders, repeats ideas and doesn't not always make his conclusions clear. That said there is much of interest here and he does show conclusively that the bible is a very human construction set firmly within the events & political / religious requirements of various eras. I particularly liked his exploration of ...more
Jun 04, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A bit of hard work at times but well worth the effort.
Traces the development of the bible as a text.
Looks at the text with the same eye as he looks at other classical works in other books. Asks the same level of evidence and compares to contemporary sources, Assyrian/Babylonian/Persian/Greek/Roman etc.
Contrasts the gospels and looks at when things were written against when they claim/appear to have been written.
Thankfully not as much ref to pottery as some of his other work.
Avoids the issue of f
Feb 21, 2018 rated it liked it
There's an enjoyable and interesting bool lurking within - the subject matter is fascinating and RLF has cleary 'done the reading and for the most part is an engaging enough guide. Unfortunately, it really needed a good editor. The style is long winded and frequently gets bogged down in detail. Structurally it lacks any clear overall argument and feels like individual chapters have been placed at random with no obvious relationship with each other. Not a bad book by any means but could have been ...more
Oct 12, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
Very interesting read, there are many books aiming to "tell the truth" about the Bible, most of them - from Christian authors as from atheists - are biased, they use the Bible to prove their point. The first trait of this work is that Robin Lane Fox loves the Bible and its history, his quest here is driven by a genuine desire to explore the complicated and extraordinary history of these books, so I guess that everyone who is fascinated by the Bible will find much to appreciate in this unauthoriz ...more
May 14, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: religious-belief
Lane Fox takes the reader on a sweeping scholarly journey from Genesis to the Apocalypse, shattering myths and laying bare falsehoods, selective storytelling and straightforward human errors.

A great storyteller himself, he concludes that the 'truth' in both the Old and New Testaments is that it is what people believed, not what actually happened: "The scriptures are not a divine mirror but a human labyrinth of authors, person and predicaments. We respond to them because of a movement on our par
Jul 19, 2017 rated it did not like it
Shelves: religion
Not very well explained. Sometime the author assumes you are intimately aware of the bible and various versions of it. The chapters will hop around and draw conclusion from old testament to new testament back to old testament without any seeming cohesion. The author also throws in his view of a subject without any discussion of why he holds that view and proceeds to use it a further evidence of some seemingly unrelated part of the bible. Was not very impressed. Would not recommend.
Alicia Fox
Jun 12, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction, favorites
As an archaeology nut with a History major, in college, I read a few of Fox's books for classes. I'm pretty sure this was one of them. Rereading it, it's clear why I loved his stuff. Fox's research and scholarship are spot on, and he has the ability to tear apart belief systems with a mere turn of phrase. It's a must-read for anyone interested in the history of how and why the Bible was written, and by whom.
May 21, 2012 rated it really liked it
An excellent book that relies a lot on assuming the intent of long dead authors. Some of it is enlightening, some infuriating, much is repetition that requires the readers acceptance of assumptions made by the author, many of which I found compelling, if inconclusive. There is great worth in the comparisons of Biblical origins to the traditions of other literate, Near-East peoples and their written texts. I enjoyed the book.
Feb 25, 2016 rated it liked it
Depending of how many other books you have read about this, this could be a good start. If you read a few, still a good points could be extracted but my advise is only read it if you are still really into this.
Angela Shumake
Jul 31, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Very interesting and inormative. This historian covers inconsistencies in the Bible, and facts that change the perspective a bit. Also, very entertainingly written and I believe a good source for those who are seeking their own "truth".
Jul 10, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Superb compilation of biblical inconsistencies.
Jul 12, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Sep 26, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
How much do I love this author's books? I can't even count the ways. The knowledge and wit combined with a fascinating topic make this a keeper.
Mar 21, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: religion-atheism
Fox comes to a completely different conclusion than Bart Ehrman as far as which of the gospels most accurately represents what Jesus actually said.
Nov 19, 2014 added it
Shelves: 2014, abandoned
First abandoned book of 2015. This is more academic than I was looking for. I've been reading it for a month, and I'm less than half done.
May 07, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
nggak tau kenapa dulu beli buku ini, ato siapa yg beli. sudah ada di rak buku keluarga dari dulu. tidak tau isi bible jadi tidak terlalu bisa mengerti isinya.
Mar 03, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: religion
Fantastic read.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead
  • Before the Coffee Gets Cold
  • Decline and Fall
  • The Triumph of Christianity: How a Small Band of Outcasts Conquered an Empire
  • How Far Can You Go?
  • The Outsider
  • The Modernisation of Irish Society, 1848-1918
  • Where Angels Fear to Tread
  • Night Boat to Tangier
  • Miss Mapp (Lucia, #2)
  • Geology: A Very Short Introduction
  • A Keeper
  • The Reformation: A History
  • The Secret Barrister: Stories of the Law and How It's Broken
  • Amongst Women
  • Letters to a Young Writer: Some Practical and Philosophical Advice
  • Religion and the Rebel
  • The Redundancy of Courage
See similar books…
Robin Lane Fox (born 1946) is an English historian, currently a Fellow of New College, Oxford and University of Oxford Reader in Ancient History.

Lane Fox was educated at Eton and Magdalen College, Oxford.

Since 1977, he has been a tutor in Greek and Roman history, and since 1990 University Reader in Ancient History. He has also taught Greek and Latin literature and early Islamic history, a subject

Related Articles

There is nothing like reading a history or biography book and being so completely transported to another time and place that you find...
60 likes · 18 comments