- Paperback: 344 pages
- Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell; 1 edition (January 28, 2005)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0631222529
- ISBN-13: 978-0631222521
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 3 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,037,410 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Judges Through the Centuries 1st Edition
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“A sometimes sober, sometimes whimsical, sometimes disturbing, sometimes delightful, and always enlightening journey through the centuries alongside all manner of Bible readers... Gunn has attempted a large feat here – to provide readers with a meaningful survey of over 2,000 years' worth of reception of the book of Judges – and has succeeded admirably. Hopefully, other volumes in the Blackwell series will live up to Gunn's example. This is an engaging and enlightening commentary that deserves attention from anyone interested in the history of the interpretation, use, and influence of the book of Judges.” The Bible and Critical Theory
"In this first volume of the new Blackwell Bible Commentaries series to treat a book from the Tanak, David M. Gunn has not only provided a useful tool for students of the book of Judges but also established a new standard for biblical commentaries in general." Review of Biblical Literature
"If you want to know how learned rabbis and church fathers, Puritan divines and rationalist skeptics, musicians, painters and graphic artists, guardians of public morality and improvers of children’s souls all wrested religious and moral significance from an unruly Book of Judges, this is the book for you.
David Gunn selectively assembles some twenty centuries of professional and popular interpreters of the Book of Judges and provides a running commentary on how, in various times and places, these readers found meaning and instruction from the Book of Judges, often treasuring the book and sometimes recoiling from what they found to be its alien ways. Writing with humor and verve, Gunn provides thematic continuity among interpreters separated by centuries and alludes to social and political issues that help explain shifting interpretations. Mostly, however, David Gunn allows his choir to sing and his artists to imagine. The voices and illustrations have sometimes been univocal—as in consistently holding up Delilah as femme fatale. Very often they have been troubled and dissonant, finding conflicting allegories and ambiguous moral instruction in hair, heroic militarism, rapacious slaughter, sex, foxes, and sacrifice. Gunn, or rather the readers he assembles, offer eye-opening testimony that the Bible-as-cultural-force has never been a single thing, but a malleable text which people have received quite variously, depending on the changing circumstances in which they lived and the social issues they sought to address." Burke O. Long, Bowdoin College
"This is an exciting new commentary series, which presents a fresh and stimulating approach to understanding biblical interpretation. Leaving behind the verse by verse analysis typically found in commentaries, this series focuses instead on the broad spectrum of interpretations that have been applied to each story/textual unit by Jews and Christians throughout the ages.
Gunn’s ground-breaking volume on Judges, the first in the series to treat an Old Testament book, is filled with many new insights and stimulating analyses. Gunn demonstrates very effectively that surveying the reception history of a particular passage focuses one’s attention on key issues in an intriguing and often provocative way. Numerous perspectives for understanding each narrative in Judges are compared in a lively manner that highlights the many subtle nuances implicit in the text. Gunn’s volume is thoroughly researched and exceptionally informative, and will provide a stellar model for subsequent volumes to emulate." Alan J. Hauser, Appalachian State University
"Gunn has attempted a large feat here - to provide readers with a meaningful survey of over 2,000 years' worth of reception of the book of Judges - and has succeeded admirably...This is an engaging and enlightening commentary that deserves attention from anyone interested in the history of the interpretation, use, and influence of the book Judges." R.Christopher Heard, Pepperdine University California
This bible commentary focuses on The Book of Judges, a fascinating biblical text, full of rich and colorful stories of which the best known is Samson and Delilah. It treats the text story by story, making it accessible to non-specialists. Predominant are women's stories, which have both offended and inspired readers for centuries, including the stories of Deborah; Jael, who slew Sisera; and Jephthah's daughter, sacrificed by her father. The commentary traces the reception of Judges through the ages, not only by scholars and theologians, but also by preachers, teachers, politicians, poets, essayists and artists. It shows how ideology and the social location of readers have shaped the way the book has been read, disclosing a long history of debate over the roles of women and the use of force, as well as Christian prejudice against Jews and "Orientals." In this way, it offers a window onto the wider use of the Bible in the Western world.
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The good part of the commentary is it doesn't go the path of others who turn everything into a metaphor and miss the historicity and critical interpretation of the text. It also doesn't avoid the difficulties of the text nor attempts to defend its place in the canon of scriptures. But again I would have liked to have had a bit more information on the difficulties and historical interpretations than are given.
Overall this commentary won't answer anything more about the book than the reader can find on his or her own through careful reading, cross study and the use of a good Hebrew lexicon. However, the price is less than many scholarly texts so the inclusion of the various references from the ages is worth the price.
with Samson the Nazirite, from annunciation to self-immolation, and, of course, his Timnite bride, the prostitute of Gaza, and Delilah (Judges 13-16); the eighth chapter treats Micah, his Levite, and the rampaging Danites (Judges 17-18); and the ninth chapter closes with a story of rape writ large, the Levite's woman and the Benjamite war (Judges 19-21).
Each chapter begins with an abstract of the story (the "argument;" as older commentaries called it) and a summary of the discussion. (Names are given as commonly found in English, usually Protestant, sources, with Catholic alternatives where these differ.) A reader desiring a brief overview of responses to Judges over the centuries is invited to read through these summaries. Two main sections follow: "Ancient and Medieval" and "Early Modern and Modern." The former runs from Josephus and Pseudo-Philo, includes the clas¬sical texts of rabbinic Judaism, the Christian Fathers of Late Antiquity, and sources from the Middle Ages. It concludes with the fifteenth century and the onset of printing. The latter starts with the Renaissance and the Protestant Reformation, and continues through the Enlightenment up to the present day. Given its extent, this section is often broken up into topics, often main characters - for example, in the third chapter, "Deborah," "Barak, Sisera, and Sisera's mother," "Jael" - or main talking points - in the seventh chapter, "Typology," "Edifying history," "Foxes and fire," "Captivity and death," among others. By and large each section or subsection proceeds chronologically from earlier to later sources, and often the chapter ends with a "Recent reception" subsection focusing mainly on scholarly reception over the past century. This last review will seem cursory (to say the least), given conventional commen¬taries, but it does attempt to give the reader interested in the state of Judges scholarship today some guidelines.
The illustrations offer a small sample of the visual art of Judges, with pref¬erence given to works originally designed for reproduction, such as print suites or Bible illustrations, and to published engravings of paintings rather than photographs of the original, since these are what most people saw before the late nineteenth century. Because of limitations of space, most of the plates are composites of pictures, many of them cropped or providing detail only and much reduced, so providing only a flavor of the real thing. The folio engrav¬ings of Gerard Hoet and Caspar Luyken, for example, are magnificent, far beyond what can be conveyed here.
The Bibliography at the end of the book is subdivided into Ancient and Medieval, Early Modern and Modern, and Graphical sources. It is followed by a complete list of illustrations. Also included in the end matter are a short glos¬sary of terms, events, and interpretive methods perhaps unfamiliar to some readers, and a set of brief biographies (where information was available). Anindex of names includes both primary and secondary-source authors, and an index of main subjects concludes the book.
A few idiosyncrasies need to be mentioned. First concerns the reference system. In the main text, the date supplied for a source is the original (as best could be determined). Details in square brackets are those of the edition used, when it is reasonably certain that its content does not differ significantly from the original. In the bibliography, however, a date in square brackets is the original, and the principal date is that of the edition used. Second concerns the reference materials. There are many secondary sources discussing topics covered here. That they are not mentioned does not mean that they are unavailable. But I have chosen to focus on primary sources, and the bibliography reflects this choice. Third, where possible, life-spans are supplied when (deceased) authors and artists are first mentioned, as well as dates of their works. Likewise a few words describing the person are offered. In larger chapters, where a reader may be consulting only one section, this information is sometimes repeated. The result may appear (and be) inconsis¬tent as well as redundant to some readers, but it is intended to be helpful to others.