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The Hidden Book in the Bible Paperback – August 18, 1999
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Richard Elliott Friedman's The Hidden Book in the Bible may be the most important literary discovery of our century. Or it may be a load of guano. The Hidden Book, like Michael Drosnin's The Bible Code, makes the audacious claim that its author has discovered a secret structure of meaning in the holy texts of Christianity and Judaism. Bucking more than a century of biblical textual criticism, Friedman claims that one author, probably a lay person, wrote many of the most familiar stories in the Hebrew Bible (including the stories of Adam and Eve, Abraham, Moses, and David) as one unified text. The Hidden Book's introduction defends this thesis with close readings of the patterns of punctuation, word choice, sentence structure, and allusion used in these stories; the remainder of the book is a reconstruction of what Friedman says is the original, foundational text at the heart of the Bible.
Unlike The Bible Code, Friedman's book abstains from making specific interpretive claims based on its findings. Yet Friedman does draw one lesson for contemporary readers from the story he has found--perhaps the only element of this book that will escape the controversy it is sure to cause. In an age of relativism, Friedman writes, "Suddenly this work comes back from nearly three thousand years ago. And it says yes, humans have the power to make judgments of what is good and bad and right and wrong. In this story, the creator of the earth does not always reveal what is good and bad, but rather the humans take the fruit that enables them to make these judgments." --Michael Joseph Gross --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
"Richard Elliott Friedman is that rare biblical scholar who is both able to address a broad audience and willing to raise large speculative issues about the Bible...a challenging, exhilarating theory that will force biblical scholars to rethink some basic assumptions...a bold thesis that should give everyone pause." -- Robert Alter, the "New York Times Book Review""A brilliant piece of scholarly detective work...Friedman's book blows like a fresh breeze through the halls of biblical study."-- "Publishers Weekly""[Friedman's] work is poised to produce one of those once-in-a-generation breakthroughs, after which the field of study can never look the same again."-- H. G. M. Williamson, Regius Professor of Hebrew, Oxford University
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Top customer reviews
The book would be worth reading for the above reason alone, but there is more value than that in Friedman’s presentation. He gives insight into academic quarrels over what seems clear enough to a non-academic reader. Those quarrels are worth a few laughs. He gives insight into the linguistic skills of researchers, with their ability to identify words that came into use during specific time periods. As readers of translations, we miss those historical insights, and Friedman delivers them to us.
Yet the best part is Friedman’s treatment of the idea that a woman was the author. He presents that discussion before his translation. After reading the translation, I was in stitches. I felt if the author wasn’t Bathsheba, it was surely her best friend. I noticed the author carefully saying that David’s attempt to pin Solomon’s parentage on Bathsheba’s husband Uriah, by recalling him home on leave from the war, failed because Uriah stayed away from his home. Bathsheba had a lot to gain from Solomon definitely being David’s son. I noticed the author making the prophet Nathan the instigator of the court coup by which Bathsheba put Solomon on the throne. Bathsheba had a lot to gain from God wanting Solomon on the throne. In modern historical fiction, that would be called a Queen Mother grabbing power. Friedman may not read modern historical fiction, which borrows from documented history to entertain. If he did, he would notice that it is a favorite of female readers and female authors. Friedman does observe other instances in the story that focus on wives using their powers for a favorite son, and the many sibling deceptions which entertain readers of historical fiction. As readers of a 3000 year old history, of which the Old Testament is the only document, Friedman makes us ask what part of the story documented history, and what part retold for effect.
I have always been fascinated by the tale of David’s racy descent from Boaz in the book of Ruth. Perhaps Friedman’s work may trigger a linguistic analysis that reveals a link with the Hidden Book, if not in authorship, perhaps in style or motive, because David’s descent is also Solomon’s descent.
For the J Bible itself I would rate it as perfect five stars since I believe that it's truly inspired by the Most High.
The Hidden Book in the Bible is just an attempt of Mr. Friedman to figure out what the J Bible might be looked like.
I'm a muslim, and as a muslim I am obliged to believe in the Book before the Quran which I interpret it as the Bible. However, it is difficult for me to believe in the Bible while there are many contradictions between the Bible and the Quran, not to mention the contradictions within the Bible itself.
When I first heard about the documentary hypothesis (JEPD theory), I was excited. Since most scholars said that it was J who wrote the Bible for the first time, I tried to figure out what the J Bible looks like. I believe that in terms of reliability, J is the most reliable source of the Bible compared to E and P.
Recently, I just found out that there are actually some books that attempt to figure out how the J Bible looks like, and I bought several books of them (hard copy), namely The Bible with Sources Revealed by this author, The Book of J by Harold Bloom, The Pentateuch: A Source Critical Version of the Five Books of Moses by Kenneth Michael Montville, and The Book of Yahweh (Yahwist Bible) by Clarimond Mansfield.
However, since those books will be shipped to me sometime next month and I cannot wait that long, I also bought the kindle version of the Hidden Book in the Bible.
You should note that this is my personal review of this Hidden Book based on what I believe (the Quran), so it's very subjective.
I focus the review on Pentateuch only, that is Genesis, Exodus, and Numbers.
The Hidden Book removes many dubious parts of the Bible that contains doublets and contradictions (within itself or with the Quran).
There's no creation story in Genesis 1, no wife-sister story in Genesis 20, no sacrifice of Isaac (Genesis 22), no mention of quails in Exodus 16, no bronze serpent story (Numbers 21), which makes it better by the way. Furthermore, Mr. Friedman also removes Genesis 25:1-6 (which states that Abraham also has others sons from Keturah). That might explain why Paul said that Abraham "only" has two sons in Galatia 4:22.
Here are the reasons why I didn't give it 4 or 5 stars:
1. It lacks the Seven Plagues Story
Clarimond Mansfield version of the Book of Yahweh has The Seven Plagues story (not ten). Similarly, the Quran also implies that there were actually seven plagues in Egypt instead of ten. So I feel that the seven plagues story should be included in this book.
2. It lacks the story of Israels' complaint in the wilderness and their longing for cucumbers, the onions, and the garlic (Numbers 11)
Again, Clarimond Mansfield has this story in his Yahwist Bible, and again this story is echoed in the Quran (QS 2:61), so I believe that the quails story should have been included in the book.
3. It was the brothers who sold Joseph to the Midianites (Genesis 37:28)
This time, Clarimond Mansfield agrees with Mr. Friedman. However, it contradicts the Quran which states that it's actually the Midianites who pulled Joseph out of the well (QS 12:19). So, "they" in 37:28 verse (And there passed by Midianites, merchantmen; and they drew and lifted up Joseph out of the pit, and sold Joseph to the Ishmaelites for twenty pieces of silver - ASV) refers to the Midianites, not the brothers.
Comparing Mr. Mansfield and Mr. Friedman's version, in my opinion the former is slightly better than the latter.
I can read the soft copy of the Yahwist Bible on the internet for free, but I find it necessary to get the hard copy of this book.