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How to Read the Bible: A Guide to Scripture, Then and Now Paperback – Illustrated, October 21, 2008
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“Who should we believe about the Bible—our Sunday-school teachers or our university professors? James Kugel cuts through this dilemma with a breathtaking new look at the world’s most popular book...No writer on the Bible has wrestled so profoundly with the most basic, important questions raised by our conflicting knowledge and desires.” —“The Best Books We Read in 2007,” The A.V. Club
“To say that this would be the college course you never got to take about the Bible would be damning with faint praise; it would be the college course, the graduate seminar, and reading for comprehensive exams you never got around to, all in one. It may be the most popular book about these modern critics ever written; it’s certainly one of the best popular books on the Bible in many years.” —Haaretz
About the Author
- Item Weight : 2.22 pounds
- Paperback : 848 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0743235878
- ISBN-13 : 978-0743235877
- Dimensions : 6 x 1.6 x 9 inches
- Publisher : Free Press; Illustrated edition (October 21, 2008)
- Language: : English
- Best Sellers Rank: #268,499 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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The book explores origin, historicity, and interpretations of the familiar stories and words. Linguistics and archaeology have made significant contributions, but many important questions seem not to have been answered once and for all. Maybe they never will.
Questions like 'who wrote these texts?' have been answered in too many different ways to leave us with a clear conclusion. We don't know for sure, if key persons like Abraham, Moses, Joshua, or even David really existed, or if they are mere giants of mythology. Or if anything like the exodus happened. Or the conquering of Canaan by an invading Israel. Or if the alleged wisdom of King Solomon has a base in truth. (Mustn't he rather have been quite a loser, in view of the breaking up of his kingdom as soon as he was gone?)
What about the beginnings of monolatry and monotheism? No definite answers.
Which child did Isaiah's prophecy, about the child that will be born, that Christmas lore likes to emphasize, refer to, actually? And more of the kind.
I recommend this book if you want to update yourself on the various disputes about biblical interpretation.
How does the author reconcile the findings, that he reports here, with his personal religious attitude? He doesn't. '...modern biblical scholarship and traditional Judaism are and must always remain completely irreconcilable.'
In the last chapter, the author admits to his personal contradiction: his religious self considers modern Bible research irrelevant. A split mind.
My headline is a quote from page 411. The chapter deals with the kingless period of Israel. Whether the author meant to comment on modern politics in Israel or the US is not clear to me.