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Joseph's Bones: Understanding the Struggle Between God and Mankind in the Bible Paperback – February 26, 2008


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Riverhead Trade (February 26, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1594482896
  • ISBN-13: 978-1594482892
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.6 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,047,672 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

The narratives concerning Joseph, the eldest son of Jacob and Rachel, are related in Genesis, verses 37 to 50. They form the transition between the stories of the patriarchs and the Israelite enslavement in Egypt. Segal points out that Joseph's bones are mentioned three times in the Hebrew Bible and once in the New Testament. He posits that the first six books, Genesis through the Book of Joshua (sometimes called the Hexateuch), reveal a single, powerful, and coherent story that does, in some ways, resemble Greek mythology. "It is not Pious. It does not revere God, but depicts a constant struggle between God and humanity, and in many ways, its sympathies lie with mankind." Philosopher Segal has written a perceptive and intelligent book. George Cohen
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

Modest in manner but brilliant in the closeness of its readings, Joseph's Bones is a work of stunning originality. Nothing quite like it has appeared in years. -- Jack Miles, author of God: A Biography --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

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Overall, a good read, and a fast one at that.
Newton Ooi
Dr. Segal explores Joseph's story of suffering and forgiveness and finds in it an example of compassion and unconditional love.
Mae Stroshane
Once again, Dr. Segal brings extraordinary insight to his subject.
AJPincus

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

24 of 26 people found the following review helpful By E. Lang on May 11, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Joseph's Bones offers a radically different interpretation from traditional views of the relationship between God and the Israelites (and more generally humanity). Dr. Segal presents the case that, at least initially, while God is powerful, he is not omniscient, nor particularly benevolent, and indeed, may be somewhat insecure and emotionally immature. Thus, the book is concerned with understanding the content of the Bible, rather than whether the Bible itself is true or whether God exists. Nevertheless, the issues the book raises may be troublesome for people who truly believe in God (though perhaps not impossible to accept, because, by its end, the book also raises the possibility that God may have evolved into a being that could be worthy of worship). Indeed, this book may be more difficult for true believers to dismiss than are books that outright deny the existence of God, because its arguments are so tightly bound to the Bible and therefore show that the Bible itself paints a not very pretty picture of God.
The author's case is not airtight. For example, at a few points in the text assumptions or interpretations are chosen because of their interest value rather than their validity (which is impossible to prove). That said, most of the assumptions are amply buttressed by evidence and quotations from the Bible, and the arguments that flow from them are clearly laid out. Moreover, I don't believe it was the author's intention to absolutely prove his thesis, which, in fact, may be an impossibility, just as proving any particular interpretation of the Bible may be. Instead, the author has put forth an interesting and logically plausible interpretation of the historical events, and the relationship between God and humans, that are described in the Bible.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful By P. Levine on April 26, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Joseph's Bones will be controversial. Most people will not be persuaded by its radical interpretation of the Hebrew Bible. However, if you can read it with an open mind, you will find it full of insights. Segal bases his interpretation on a close reading of the text, minus the metaphysical and theological assumptions that we take for granted as the legacy of mainstream Judaism and Christianity. He does not clutter his argument with secondary scholarship or jargon, but focuses tightly on the story, which he deeply appreciates and admires. His interpretation unfolds with some of the suspense of a detective novel, but the stakes are much higher.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful By DP Gatten on September 9, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Joseph's Bones
Understanding The Struggle Between GOD And Mankind In The Bible
Jerome M. Segal

Loved Of The LORD

I just finished reading this book and I thought you might be interested in another direction I invested in.
Being a believer and follower of Jesus for thirty years, reading this work was somewhat a strain to do, as Jerome Segal suggests, to set aside my beliefs and read with an open mind. This was indeed a trek in unexplored space for me. Yet another review to add to my list
I found Jerome Segal to be an astute student and scholar of the bible. His extensive knowledge and understanding of Holy writ is obviously displayed in this in-depth critical analysis and perspective.
Segal sets aside conventional, theological and accepted views and uses Scripture (Those he chose.) alone to radically present his contentions.
His analysis thru the Torah and Joshua (Hexateuch ) portrays GOD as a immature neophyte, who is omnipotent, yet not omniscience nor magnanimous.
He seems to have Yahweh looking for a mentor and has Abraham and Moses as instruments in respectably shaping GOD's character and perspective on obedience, justice and punishment...
His writing displays his belief and love for GOD and he is scholarly neutral in his position on the deity of JESUS, while at the same time suggesting that JESUS was also a part of Yahweh's evolution.
He emphasizes the Israelites carrying two arks with them one being the bones of Joseph, which seems feasible, as the bones were with them till they buried them in Shechem, It was probably more a sarcophagus being of the rank he held in Egypt.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Mae Stroshane on August 18, 2008
Format: Paperback
A highly readable, witty and insightful interpretation of why the Israelites cherished Joseph's bones (or more likely, a sarcophagus) through 400 years of slavery and the flight from Egypt. Why did they remember Joseph's trusting charge to have his bones returned to Canaan, not immediately but for future generations? Dr. Segal explores
Joseph's story of suffering and forgiveness and finds in it an example of compassion and unconditional love. He makes a daring link between Joseph's legacy and Jesus's teachings that gives fresh meaning to the Judeo-Christian traditions . A must read for lay readers and scholars alike!
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful By David C. Belden on October 10, 2007
Format: Hardcover
This book is a great and enjoyable read. I was raised Christian and an enthusiastic one at that, then went secular, then eclectically spiritual. The Bible remains a huge influence in my life but not one I have looked into much in recent years. This book turned my understanding of what it may mean upside down in a most exciting way: the idea that the first six books of the Bible is the story of a relationship with a powerful God who needed to be taught morality by the people he was protecting. I am no Biblical scholar but Tikkun magazine (where I work) recently included a very positive review of the book by highly respected scholar Jack Miles, Distinguished Professor of English and Religious Studies at the University of California, Irvine, and the author of Christ: A Crisis in the Life of God. The review can be found at [...] and put "Joseph's Bones" in the search function.
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