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Judges (The Anchor Bible, Vol. 6A) [Hardcover]

Robert G. Boling
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)


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Book Description

December 10, 1974 038501029X 978-0385010290 1st
Judges records the birth pangs of the Israelite nation. From the Conquest to the Settlement, the conflicts in this book (military, political, and religious) reveal a nascent Israel, struggling to define itself as a people.

The period of the Judges, c. 1200-1100 B.C.E., was fraught with intertribal struggles, skirmishes and pitched battles with neighboring peoples, and the constant threat of assimilation. The Israelites repeatedly turned away from their God: ignored his commandments, worshipped other gods, and continually sinned. Yahweh raised up judges to lead the people back to covenant faithfulness. In their several roles as priest, prophet, and military chief of staff, these judges heeded God's call and led the people. In the Book of Judges, we get rare glimpses into the exceptional qualities and human frailties of these leaders. The approachable stories, the humor, and even the criticism of the children of Israel and the judges surprisingly illuminate a people in transition.

Boling's in-depth introduction and commentary explain the historical background, the sociocultural and religious milieu, and the literary complexities of the book. His fresh translation draws the modern reader into the dynamic stories while conveying the nuance of the Hebrew text.

Robert G. Boling is Professor of Old Testament at McCormick Theological Seminary in Chicago.


Editorial Reviews

Language Notes

Text: English, Hebrew (translation)

From the Inside Flap

Judges records the birth pangs of the Israelite nation. From the Conquest to the Settlement, the conflicts in this book (military, political, and religious) reveal a nascent Israel, struggling to define itself as a people.

The period of the Judges, c. 1200-1100 B.C.E., was fraught with intertribal struggles, skirmishes and pitched battles with neighboring peoples, and the constant threat of assimilation. The Israelites repeatedly turned away from their God: ignored his commandments, worshipped other gods, and continually sinned. Yahweh raised up judges to lead the people back to covenant faithfulness. In their several roles as priest, prophet, and military chief of staff, these judges heeded God's call and led the people. In the Book of Judges, we get rare glimpses into the exceptional qualities and human frailties of these leaders. The approachable stories, the humor, and even the criticism of the children of Israel and the judges surprisingly illuminate a people in transition.

Boling's in-depth introduction and commentary explain the historical background, the sociocultural and religious milieu, and the literary complexities of the book. His fresh translation draws the modern reader into the dynamic stories while conveying the nuance of the Hebrew text.

Robert G. Boling is Professor of Old Testament at McCormick Theological Seminary in Chicago.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 376 pages
  • Publisher: Doubleday & Co.; 1st edition (December 10, 1974)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 038501029X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385010290
  • Product Dimensions: 9.6 x 6.3 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,276,393 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Wonderful, yet advanced, commentary March 17, 2004
Format:Hardcover
This was my first experience with the anchor bible series.
The author does a wonderful job of explaining the text and plot from an academic and historical point of view.
I gained many insights which I would have missed if I had just read the "traditional" rabbinic commentaries.
The reason I only gave the book four stars is because I do not believe that it truly lives up to the anchor series's standard of being readable to the "layman". On the contrary, if it were not for my knowledge of Hebrew and my familiarity with biblical criticism and ancient israelite history, I would have been totally lost. As it was, the commentary was hard enough and the introduction was basically unreadable.
However it definetely was challenging and rewarding. There is one episode (7:5-6)where Gideon chooses soldiers based on how they drink water from a pool. The verses in the hebrew bible (and I assume the King James version) are totally ambiguous. Using the septuagant and some crafty problem solving, the author fills in the missing words to render the verses totally comprehensable. Without the anchor, those verses would remain a mystery.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
To understand the difficulties facing the biblical commentator of the Book of Judges, it is necessary to briefly critique the text itself, as presumptuous as that may sound. One fears rumbles of thunder at any misstep and yet it cannot be denied that Judges presents challenges to the lay reader who has begun a journey through the Hebrew Scripture. The work suffers from its place in Biblical history, both in terms of what it conveys and what precedes and proceeds it.

Judges finds itself in a squeeze between the great Patriarchs/Moses/Joshua narrative of the first six books of the canon, and the Samuel/Kings/Chronicles epoch that will follow. The works preceding Judges are dominated by great heroic figures that carry the day by action or narrative. Abraham, Moses and Joshua are in regular communion with Yahweh. The books after Judges are prominent for detailing famous men who also conversed with Yahweh, this time through the advocacy of priests and prophets. In addition, the establishment of the kingship and the permanent establishment of Israel's sacred space, the Temple, give later books a practical and spiritual grounding.

Judges, by contrast, portrays a two century span of disarray, a profound break from what went before and what will follow. There are few commanding interventions by Yahweh and priestly influence in the text is nil. A dozen leaders, with varying degrees of success as well as some profound failures, suffer the misfortune of trying to fill the shoes of the Patriarchs, Moses, and Joshua. At best Judges is a prolegomena for the kingly books to follow, a kind of explanation as to why the radical step of a national monarch was the right one to take.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover
According to the noted Biblical archeologist William Dever, the period of Judges is probably the point at which the text of the Bible starts to match what modern archeology can show about what may have actually occured.

Or, as Joseph Campbell might have put it, it's where myth begins to yield to history or perhaps at least legend.

With the possible exception of the Samson stories, judges is perhaps one of the most overlooked yet most interested areas of the Bible.

All too few seem to know that Judges 5 which treats the period of Deborah ranks along with Deuteronomy 33 and Exodus 15 as being the oldest written material in the Bible. The reason I can make this statement is because the archaic nature of the Hebrew testifies to its antiquity in much the same way that were I to insert a quote from Shakespeare the modern eye would quickly catch the relevant differences in text style which demonstrate the much greater antiquity of the Shakespeare quote than the rest of its surrounding material.

Aside from its antiquity, Judges also tells us much about the individual tribes who went on to become Israel and Judah. It's here where Samson becomes compelling independent of his obvious narrative power (viz. it's a good story). Careful analysis of the wording of the Samson story helps understand the corrolations between Samson and that other superstrong Hero, Heracles or Hercules as the Romans called him and the tribe of Dan, for whom Samson served as leader. Again, careful study informs that there was indeed a connection between the Dan and Danoi, an Aegian people whose migration enabled them to become part of the emergant Israel.

As can be seen from these brief examples, there is a deep wealth of information to be gleaned about Israelite origins by carefully examining their proof text. It's fortunate that we are aided in this endeaver by the Anchor Bible Series which here as always serves as the golden standard of Biblical scholarship.
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