Why have so many scholars ceased to believe in a type of inspiration that distinguishes the Bible from every other book? Why is fundamentalism so unsatisfying to modern people? This history of biblical interpretation from 1500 to the present answers these questions by showing how biblical scholarship has developed under the influence of internal and external factors.
In What Have They Done to the Bible John Sandys-Wunsch documents the changes that have taken place in biblical exegesis since 1500 and accounts for the major reasons for these changes. Answering the question of why fundamentalism is unsatisfying to modern people, Sandys-Wunsch maintains that this development was the result of occurrences both within and outside biblical interpretation. The internal" developments consisted of work on the textual tradition, biblical languages, and the recognition of wider problems such as consistency, cogency, and coherence within biblical documents. *External - factors were the development of secular society, tolerance, academic freedom, a perceived dichotomy between the Bible and science, and information about human culture in general, both past and present. He concludes that after the Renaissance it was the application of historical considerations to both the internal and external factors of the biblical tradition that was the main source of the modern approach to the Bible.
The Rev. Dr. John Sandys-Wunsch, D.S.Litt., D.Phil., formerly a university professor and administrator in Canada and England, is a research fellow at the University of Victoria.