The History of the Bible: Explore 2,000 Years of Biblical Interpretation and Cultural Impact

Podcast-style audio course -
Length: 10 hrs and 3 mins
Professor, Saint Mary’s College of California
(5 customer reviews)
Audio Download + Subscription
Audio Download + Subscription
Audio Download + Subscription

Explore the two-thousand-year impact of the most-read book ever written.

The Bible’s importance can hardly be overstated: Jesus and the earliest Christians shaped their self-identity from its pages, medieval monks spent countless hours meditating on the sacred words, and reformers have been inspired by its radical message to speak the truth of the Gospel. While its message has unified believers through the centuries, debates about biblical interpretation have also caused divisions among the faithful.

This 24-lecture audio course, taught by award-winning professor Zach Flanagin, guides you through over two millennia of biblical interpretation. You will explore the most important ways people have read the Bible in ancient history and in modern times.

After looking at how early Christians inherited scriptural approaches from Judaism, you will explore the tradition of allegorical interpretation in antiquity and the Middle Ages. Next, you will survey the important movements of scholasticism, the Renaissance, the Protestant Reformation, and the Enlightenment, which led to profound debates about the nature of the authority of the Bible and the Church. Finally, you will consider the current state of biblical interpretation, where many different voices are being heard.

Learn about downloadable programs.


Frequently Bought Together

  • Sale! Medieval Christianity: Understanding Faith, Mysticism, and Worship during the Middle Ages

    Medieval Christianity: Understanding Faith, Mysticism, and Worship during the Middle Ages

    Select options
  • Sale! Understanding Eschatology

    Eschatology: From John’s Apocalypse to Millennialism, Exploring the History of the End of Days

    Select options
  • 21 Ecumenical Councils that Shaped Catholic History and Beliefs

    Select options
  • From the Dark Ages to the Enlightenment: The Birth of Modernity

    From the Dark Ages to the Enlightenment: The Birth of Modernity

    Select options

David Zachariah Flanagin, Ph.D., is Professor of Theology and Religious Studies at Saint Mary’s College of California, where he teaches courses in the development of Christian thought and in biblical studies. His teaching has earned him recognition by the student body as Faculty Member of the Year. Prof. Flanagin received his doctorate in the History of Christianity from the Divinity School at the University of Chicago. He is the author of a number of articles on late-medieval ecclesiology and biblical interpretation. He is the co-editor (with Christopher M. Bellitto) of Reassessing Reform: A Historical Investigation into Church Renewal, published by Catholic University of America Press. In addition to his academic duties, he lectures frequently at churches on topics in the Bible and theology.
Praise for Zach Flanagin
“Zach Flanagin is an outstanding historian… thoroughly grounded in his material, but with special gifts as a lecturer. His works in late medieval spirituality are top-notch and I commend him for searching out the origins of this spirituality in its very beginnings.”– Gerald Christianson, Professor Emeritus of Church History, Gettysburg Lutheran Seminary        
“Zach Flanagin enjoys the unique combination of deep learning and clear teaching, which is why I recommended him to Now You Know Media. He can communicate complicated subjects in an accessible manner that raises the level of conversation. You will leave his courses with greater insights into church history and the spirituality that drives it.” – Christopher Bellitto, Ph.D., History Department, Kean University
“He is an energetic, captivating and enthusiastic lecturer who speaks to both experienced and beginning Bible students. His knowledge and love of the Bible resonates with adults. He not only covers the history and message of each book, but always inspires his listener to find meaning and application for life today.” – Nora Petersen, Director of Adult Formation at St. John Vianney Parish, CA   
“I have the privilege of working closely with Professor Flanagin, who is—and I do not exaggerate—one of the most gifted writers and verbal communicators I know. His scholarship in Christian history is influential, and his classroom teaching is masterful.” – Michael Barram, Ph.D., Saint Mary’s College of California

    Theme I: The Birth of Christian Interpretation
  • Introduction: The Importance of Interpretation
  • The Beginnings of Christian Interpretation: The Jewish Matrix, Part 1
  • The Beginnings of Christian Interpretation: The Jewish Matrix, Part 2
  • The Beginnings of Christian Interpretation: The Jewish Matrix, Part 3
  • Christ Is the Key: Prophetic Interpretation of the Old Testament
  • A Shadow of What Is To Come: Typological Interpretation

  • Theme II: Spiritual/Allegorical Interpretation
  • Introduction to Allegory
  • The Logic of Allegory
  • Allegory as Spiritual Practice
  • The Problems with Allegory and Its Boundaries

  • Theme III: Literal Interpretation
  • The Rise of the Literal Sense
  • Sola Scriptura
  • Perspicuity and Fragmentation

  • Theme IV: The Enlightenment and Historical Criticism
  • The Dawn of Modernity
  • Baruch Spinoza
  • Modern Interpretation
  • The Quest for the Historical Jesus
  • Responses to Enlightenment Exegesis
  • Fundamentalism and the Bible
  • Fundamentalist Exegesis
  • Modern Catholics and the Bible

  • Theme V: Postmodernity
  • The Postmodern World
  • Feminist Biblical Exegesis
  • Theological Biblical Interpretation

5 reviews for The History of the Bible: Explore 2,000 Years of Biblical Interpretation and Cultural Impact

  1. Charlottesville, Va,


    clarity of presentation. vivid examples. content.

  2. Allan Hanson, River Falls, WI, USA


    Gives a basis to understand the currents in Christian thought, how the vast variety of thought in the many creeds people claim to be Christian (Religious Right, Catholic, Baptist, Lutheran and all their synods, Coptic, Greek, Orthodox, Ecumenical……….)

  3. Allan H., WI

    2015 Spring Survey

    Presented by Professor David Zachariah Flanagin, Ph.D., and he does a very good job

  4. Carma

    Excellent instructor!

    Excellent instructor, great information, great delivery

  5. Anonymous

    Winter Survey: January 2017

    Prof. Flanagin is an excellent teacher; his delivery is lively and insightful. His discussion of how stories are told thru stained glass windows was fascinating.

Add a review

Stay in the know.

Enter your email address for a free coupon, and to find out about future specials and promotions. You may unsubscribe at any time.

Now You Know Media is now Learn25

In an effort to provide our customers the best possible experience, we have created a new website for you at to browse our selection of over 400 audio and video courses by top professors.