- Hardcover: 496 pages
- Publisher: HarperOne (November 8, 2011)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0061121754
- ISBN-13: 978-0061121753
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.5 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #932,699 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Meaning of the Bible: What the Jewish Scriptures and Christian Old Testament Can Teach Us Hardcover – November 8, 2011
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“Amy-Jill Levine and Douglas A. Knight have combined to write a book on the Bible that is as academically brilliant as it is marvelously entertaining. By placing our scriptures into their original Jewish context they have opened up startling and profound new insights. This is a terrific book.” (John Shelby Spong, author of Re-Claiming the Bible for a Non-Religious World)
“More than random facts about the Hebrew Bible . . . more than a historical overview . . . [t]hey are aiming for true understanding of the life, culture, and practices of the ancient Israelites.” (Booklist)
“A winsome, accessible introduction to the theological thought of the Hebrew Bible. This sort of irenic, thoughtful linkage of criticism and interpretation within a confessing tradition is exactly what we most need in Scripture reading.” (Walter Brueggemann, Professor Emeritus, Columbia Theological Seminary)
“From its superb introduction to its perfectly worded conclusion, this book does it all. Whether your interest in the Bible is historical or literary, specific texts or broad themes, this book has it—and conveys its relevance for today. ” (Richard Elliott Friedman, author of Who Wrote the Bible? and The Bible Now)
“Provides new knowledge on the Bible’s rich diversity of teaching on sexuality, familial and ethnic discord, political corruption, religious infidelity, economic exploitation as well as the nature of God, faith, love, and social justice. It is both enlightening and inspiring.” (Peter J. Paris, the Elmer G. Homrighausen Professor of Christian Social Ethics, Emeritus, Princeton Theological Seminary)
“A book we have needed for years - learned and accessible, clearly organized by the topics readers care about, and fully engaged with current discussions of deep and broad significance.” (William Brosend, Executive Director, the Episcopal Preaching Foundation)
“If anyone thinks the fruit of biblical scholarship is esoteric and heavy reading, direct that person to this book. In it, Knight and Levine demonstrate both their scholarly proficiency and their expertise as seasoned educators. This book should appeal to a broad audience.” (Dianne Bergant, CSA, Catholic Theological Union)
“Knight and Levine have done a marvelous job of taking very sophisticated material and presenting it in an illuminating and thoroughly engaging way that bespeaks of excellent scholarship by two distinguished teachers.” (Carol J. Dempsey, OP, Ph.D, Professor of Theology, University of Portland, and author of Reading the Bible, Transforming Conflict)
“A highly accessible . . . survey that is in tune with current scholarship.” (Library Journal)
From the Back Cover
In this lively and fresh introduction to the scriptures of ancient Israel (what Christians call the Old Testament and Jews call the Tanakh), two preeminent biblical scholars, Douglas A. Knight and Amy-Jill Levine, combine their passion and expertise to examine not just what the Bible says but what it means. Through their eyes we see anew the Bible’s literary brilliance, moral profundity, historical settings, and implications for our faiths and our future.
Passed down for generations, compiled between 500 and 100 BCE, and finalized around the time of Jesus, the various accounts in the Hebrew Bible took shape under a variety of cultures. Drawing on their extensive biblical scholarship, Knight and Levine explore this diverse history and equip us with the critical tools necessary to understand what the ancient texts originally meant. With long experience in teaching candidates for the ministry as well as undergraduate and graduate students, they also explore the possible meanings the texts hold today for churches, synagogues, and anyone interested in the Bible’s legacy.
Knight and Levine begin with the broader biblical story—its historical context, literary artistry, and geographical setting. They then turn to the major biblical themes with which modern readers continue to wrestle: law and justice, human evil and God’s response, belief and practice, chaos and creation, war and peace, gender and sexuality, politics and economics, practical wisdom and apocalyptic vision. For each topic, they provide both general overviews and specific analyses of select biblical passages, explaining how and why their approaches reveal new insights and offering various strategies for informed interpretation.
Throughout, Knight and Levine inspire us to ask new questions and develop a deeper understanding of one of the greatest collections of literature known to humankind—as illuminating today as it was two thousand years ago.
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Top Customer Reviews
It occurred to me about halfway through the book that all the authors of the bible believed that God loves the smell of roasting meat. That was the main justification of sacrifice in the ancient world. Furthermore, the Jews didn't give up sacrifice willingly. They gave it up because in AD 66 the Romans burned their temple and killed all their priests. If that hadn't happened, would we still be slaughtering rams on hilltops?
A really excellent book.
You may have read Law, Power, and Justice in Ancient Israel by Knight a year ago. I reviewed Levine's book, The Misunderstood Jew, last year: see [...] These are two very knowledgeable and interesting scholars, who have now collaborated on a new project.
The focus is on the Old Testament (the Jewish scriptures), and the Jewish flavor is evident. Be forewarned: it's a liberal treatment, perhaps unappreciated by conservative Christians. Be aware also that it doesn't provide the meaning of the Bible, as if any one such meaning can be discerned from so diverse a collection of writings and opinionated Bible authors. But if the world of the Bible fascinates you--from its political atmosphere, to its social and cultural aspects, to the battle for authority between the northern and southern kingdoms, to the hope and hopelessness of dispersion and captivity--this book won't disappoint. An incredibly rich history awaits, as you journey into the power struggles between kings and prophets and Deuteronomists, and the religious atmosphere pervading it all. Bible times were certainly not an era of separation between church and state.
In four parts, Knight and Levine discuss the development of the Bible from many different angles, including:
1. Ancient Israel and the settlement of Palestine.
2. Law and Justice in Israel and the Diaspora
3. Respect and understanding of the Divine, including the temple cult.
4. Emerging politics, economy, sexuality, and what it means to be a "chosen people."
5. Wisdom literature, including the theodicy of Job
Sounds dry, doesn't it? Not even a little. Knight and Levine may not deliver on their promise to explain the meaning of the Bible, but they certainly bring the Bible alive ... and yet reach a melancholy conclusion: the Bible is not a book of answers, but of questions.