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Kugel's tour de force of biblical scholarship juxtaposes two different ways of reading the Bible: the ancient biblical interpretations, ranging from the Book of Jubilees to Augustine, that he explored in The Bible as It Was, and the modern historical approach that challenges the historical veracity of scripture and seeks instead to find its writers' original sources and purposes. It can be a jarring journey for those schooled in traditional views, but what emerges is a fresh, even strange, and very rich view of everything from the Garden of Eden to Isaiah's dream vision of God. Refreshingly undogmatic and often witty, Kugel brings an intimate knowledge of the Hebrew Bible to illuminate small points as well as large. He discusses who the ancient Israelites were; the resemblances between YHWH and Canaanite gods; the unique role of the prophet in Ancient Near Eastern religions; the nature of ancient wisdom literature; and what the Bible means when it calls Solomon the wisest of men. The result is a stunning narrative of the evolution of ancient Israel, of its God and of the entire Hebrew Bible, contrasted with ancient interpretations that aimed to uncover hidden meanings and moral lessons. So, for example, for the ancients, the story of Cain and Abel is a tale of good versus evil. For the moderns, it was originally a story of origin, about the relation between ancient Israelites and the fierce Kenites to their south. While Kugel is a traditional Jew, he sees the modern approach as compelling, so the dilemma is whether a person of faith can read scripture in both the old way and the new. Drawing on Judaism's nonfundamentalist approach, Kugel's proposed answer is that the original purpose of the texts and their lack of historical accuracy matters less than their underlying message: to serve God. (Sept.)
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Kugel intends his book as a tour through the Hebrew Bible based on an introductory course he taught at Harvard University for more than 20 years. His first aim is to acquaint readers with the contents of the Bible itself, and he points out that by the end of his introductory course, readers will have met all the major biblical figures: Abraham and Sarah, Moses, Miriam, Aaron, and Solomon, to name just a few. The book also covers all the major events, from the story of Adam and Eve to the Exodus from Egypt, the Babylonian exile, and Israel's eventual return to its homeland. The book not only focuses on what the text says but on the larger question of what a modern reader is to make of it. Geared to both the specialist and the general reader, this is an indispensable guide to a complex subject. Cohen, George --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.See all Editorial Reviews
Very good to read, but with care. I will recommend this book for those already well advanced in biblical studies.Published 2 months ago by Venessa Holtzhausen
Well written, balanced look into critical Biblical (Old Testament for me) scholarship. We live in the 21st century and it's about time we in the church recognized it.Published 2 months ago by J. Fabie
I love the way Kugel is both a serious scholar and takes the text seriously as revelation.Published 4 months ago by Amazon Customer
A great summary of all that scholars have learned about real history versus Biblical history. This is also a well written summary of biblical scholarship and an invaluable tool... Read morePublished 4 months ago by Mouncey Ferguson
I got this book as I and several friends are going through lectures on the Hebrew Bible. It has been a tremendous help in understanding how this field came about. Read morePublished 5 months ago by R. Peterson
This is the best book about the Bible I ever read. Instead of a boring book by book description, it discusses various interesting and insightful sections in each. Read morePublished 5 months ago by Juan 23