I have just finished Jaroslav Pelikan's Whose Bible Is It?, which is "a short history of the scriptures." But there is a bit more than history found in its pages. First:
The very familiarity of the Bible after all these centuries can dull its sharp edges and obscure its central function, which is not only to comfort the afflicted but to afflict the comfortable, including the comfortable who are sitting in the pews of their synagogue or church as they listen to its words.
The language of the Bible is to be read and reread, to be pondered and scrutinized. To the eyes and heart of faith, after all, it is a love letter, one long love letter. . . . The great commentators of the sacred text have been set apart from the run-of-the-mill exegetes by their having leaned to exploit its very strangeness to probe beneath the surface.