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What Really Happened in the Garden of Eden? Hardcover – November 26, 2013

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Yale University Press (November 26, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0300178697
  • ISBN-13: 978-0300178692
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.2 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #221,812 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"Classical Hebrew in the hands of Ziony Zevit is like a cello in the hands of a master cellist. He knows all the hidden subtleties of the instrument, and he makes you hear them in this rendition of the profoundly simple story of Adam, Eve, the Serpent, and their Creator in the Garden of Eden. Zevit brings a greal deal of other biblical learning to bear in a surprisingly light-hearted book. He is playing in that sense, too. But for me it is the touch of the master in his handling of Hebrew syntax that stands out most. Others can equal him in those other regards. In this one he is without peer."—Jack Miles, author of God: A Biography
(Jack Miles)

"Ziony Zevit’s new book is far more than an exploration of the Garden of Eden narrative alone. Along the way, he leads his readers into a host of related topics: ancient biblical interpretation, Jewish and Christian; the Documentary Hypothesis and modern scholars; feminist readings of the Bible; ancient Near Eastern geography; the development of the Hebrew alphabet; Egyptian garden landscaping; Israelite curse formulae; blood avengers in the biblical world—and, believe it or not, a good deal more. Without ever leaving Eden behind, his book is thus an enticing vade mecum into the various fields that make up modern biblical scholarship."—James Kugel, author of How to Read the BIble
(James Kugel)

“Zevit provides a clearly written, learned, and imaginative reinterpretation of the Garden of Eden story. Drawing on his broad knowledge of the Bible, other ancient sources, as well as from modern and medieval biblical scholarship, he tests traditional views while suggesting new ways of understanding this biblical classic.”—Mark Smith, New York University
(Mark Smith)

"Zevit’s careful analysis of the Garden Story significantly challenges the traditional interpretation and theological understanding of this pivotal text. All who read this book will deepen their understanding of the biblical text and future studies will have to take Zevit's conclusions into account."—Tremper Longman III, Westmont College

(Tremper Longman III)

“A model of biblical scholarship that is also wholly accessible to the general reader . . . enlivened by Zevit’s wit and good humor . . .  Artful, charming, and informative.”—Jonathan Kirsch, Jewish Journal
(Jonathan Kirsch Jewish Journal)

“Consistently engaging”—Mary Joan Winn Leith, Biblical Archaeology Review (Mary Joan Winn Leith Biblical Archaeology Review)

"Zevit's captivating style makes this material not only accessible but also fascinating."—A.J. Levine, CHOICE
(A.J. Levine CHOICE 2014-07-01)

Book Description

Could our understanding that the Garden of Eden story concerns original sin and the fall from divine grace be based on a more than two-thousand-year-old misconception?  In this innovative book, a renowned biblical scholar argues exactly that.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Melanie Gilbertson on March 8, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a very well-written examination of the initial cultural context of the Eden story. Although this entails a close study of the Hebrew words, the book remains accessible to those with little to no knowledge of Hebrew. There's also plenty of interesting theories and accompanying compelling evidence that may surprise even those with decent knowledge of ancient near eastern culture and Semitic etymology. I found the explanation and re-interpretation of the word commonly read as "rib" to be particularly enlightening. Throughout it all, the text is straightforward and often quite amusing. If you're interested in biblical history or Israelite culture at all, I highly recommend this book.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By William H. Barnes on March 5, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I have been "bedeviled" for decades by the traditional reading of original sin as stemming from the Garden. Professor Zevit, all in good time, addresses that reading, and in a thorough---and greatly entertaining---way, demolishes it. Much else about this famous section of Torah is also addressed, and again often in surprising ways. A great read, overall, by a first-rate scholar.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Robert Tilewick on December 29, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A superb, nuanced, and strikingly insightful exposition of a Biblical story (Adam & Eve) that we believe we all know so well that we don't even think about the assumptions underlying out beliefs. He balances, successfully, strictly linguistic analyses with broader views of the theological implications of his careful linguistic examinations. It's eye-opening, and appears well balanced between the interests of the scholar and the non-expert.
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