The character and contents of the Bible have shaped the ways in which it has been interpreted. They have not, however, exercised total control. The different aims and interests of its readers have also been influential, and this chapter will consider the most far-reaching of these. The terms of our title could be reversed to 'Christian theology and the Bible', indicating that the primary focus will be on the subjects who read, not the object that is read. The Bible has never of itself given birth to theology. Even its most heavily theological parts contribute to the ongoing task of Christian theology only by being interpreted in quite particular ways. Christians seek to understand their faith in part through their thoughtful engagement with the biblical texts. What they are doing needs explanation as much as the texts that they are reading. This Companion introduces to a wider audience not only the Bible but some of those who interpret it.
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