Swear on the Bible
Whether you've actually read the entire Bible or just listened to people talk about it, these books offer useful commentary.
Bible Babel: Making Sense of the Most Talked About Book of All Time (Harper) by Kristin Swenson, a professor of religious studies, covers the Bible's history from Hebrew manuscripts to WikiBible, plus often misquoted passages, translation issues and more, in an accessible, informed style.
The Bible: A Brief Insight (Sterling) by John Riches, part of the excellent, concise Brief Insight series on many subjects, is a scholarly but inviting look at the book's history and its complex cultural contexts.
God and Sex: What the Bible Really Says (Twelve) by Michael Coogan, editor of the New Oxford Annotated Bible, is chock-full of fascinating — and often surprising — analyses of the Bible on abortion, rape, homosexuality, polygamy and other sex-related matters.
Colette Bancroft, Times book editor