John Riches, professor of Divinity and Biblical Criticism at the University of Glasgow, provides the following view of the diverse historical influences of the Bible:
It has inspired some of the great monuments of human thought, literature, and art; it has equally fuelled some of the worst excesses of human savagery, self-interest, and narrow-mindedness. It has inspired men and women to acts of great service and courage, to fight for liberation and human development; and it has provided the ideological fuel for societies which have enslaved their fellow human beings and reduced them to abject poverty. ... It has, perhaps above all, provided a source of religious and moral norms which have enabled communities to hold together, to care for, and to protect one another; yet precisely this strong sense of belonging has in turn fuelled ethnic, racial, and international tension and conflict.
In Islam, the Bible is held to reflect true unfolding revelation from God; but revelation which had been corrupted or distorted (in Arabic: tahrif); which necessitated the giving of the Qur'an to the Islamic prophet, Muhammad, to correct this deviation.
Members of other religions may also seek inspiration from the Bible. For example Rastafaris view the Bible as essential to their religion and Unitarian Universalists view it as "one of many important religious texts".
Biblical criticism refers to the investigation of the Bible as a text, and addresses questions such as authorship, dates of composition, and authorial intention. It is not the same as criticism of the Bible, which is an assertion against the Bible being a source of information or ethical guidance, or observations that the Bible may have translation errors.
In the 17th century Thomas Hobbes collected the current evidence to conclude outright that Moses could not have written the bulk of the Torah. Shortly afterwards the philosopher Baruch Spinoza published a unified critical analysis, arguing that the problematic passages were not isolated cases that could be explained away one by one, but pervasive throughout the five books, concluding that it was "clearer than the sun at noon that the Pentateuch was not written by Moses . . ." Despite determined opposition from Christians, both Catholic and Protestant, the views of Hobbes and Spinoza gained increasing acceptance amongst scholars.