As soon as it appeared, How to Read the Bible was recognized as a masterwork, “awesome, thrilling” (The New York Times), “wonderfully interesting, extremely well presented” (The Washington Post), and “a tour de force...a stunning narrative” (Publishers Weekly). Now in its tenth year of publication, the book remains the clearest, most inviting and readable guide to the Hebrew Bible around—and a profound meditation on the effect that modern biblical scholarship has had on traditional belief. Moving chapter by chapter, Harvard professor James Kugel covers the Bible’s most significant stories—the Creation of the world, Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel, Noah and the flood, Abraham and Sarah, Jacob and his wives, Moses and the exodus, David’s mighty kingdom, plus the writings of Isaiah, Jeremiah, and the other prophets, and on to the Babylonian conquest and the eventual return to Zion. Throughout, Kugel contrasts the way modern scholars understand these events with the way Christians and Jews have traditionally understood them. The latter is not, Kugel shows, a naïve reading; rather, it is the product of a school of sophisticated interpreters who flourished toward the end of the biblical period. These highly ideological readers sought to put their own spin on texts that had been around for centuries, utterly transforming them in the process. Their interpretations became what the Bible meant for centuries and centuries—until modern scholarship came along. The question that this book ultimately asks is: What now? As one reviewer wrote, Kugel’s answer provides “a contemporary model of how to read Sacred Scripture amidst the oppositional pulls of modern scholarship and tradition.”
A world-renowned scholar reveals how a pivotal transformation in spiritual experience during the biblical era made us who we are today A great mystery lies at the heart of the Bible. Early on, people seem to live in a world entirely foreign to our own. God appears to Abraham and Sarah, Jacob and others; God buttonholes Moses and Isaiah and Jeremiah and tells them what to say. Then comes the Great Shift, and Israelites stop seeing God or hearing the divine voice. Instead, later Israelites are “in search of God,” reaching out to a distant, omniscient deity in prayers, as people have done ever since. What brought about this change? The answers come from ancient texts, archaeology and anthropology, and even modern neuroscience. They concern the origins of the modern sense of self and the birth of a worldview that has been ours ever since. James Kugel, whose strong religious faith shines through his scientific reckoning with the Bible and the ancient world, has written a masterwork that will be of interest to believers and nonbelievers alike, a profound meditation on encountering God, then and now.
TEN YEARS AGO, Harvard professor James Kugel was diagnosed with an aggressive, likely fatal, form of cancer. “I was, of course, disturbed and worried. But the main change in my state of mind was that the background music had suddenly stopped—the music of daily life that’s constantly going, the music of infinite time and possibilities. Now suddenly it was gone, replaced by nothing, just silence. There you are, one little person, sitting in the late summer sun, with only a few things left to do.” Despite his illness, Kugel was intrigued by this new state of mind and especially the uncanny feeling of human smallness that came with it. There seemed to be something overwhelmingly true about it—and its starkness reminded him of certain themes and motifs he had encountered in his years of studying ancient religions. “This, I remember thinking, was something I should really look into further—if ever I got the chance.” In the Valley of the Shadow is the result of that search. In this wide-ranging exploration of different aspects of religion—interspersed with his personal reflections on the course of his own illness—Kugel seeks to uncover what he calls “the starting point of religious consciousness,” an ancient “sense of self” and a way of fitting into the world that is quite at odds with the usual one. He tracks these down in accounts written long ago of human meetings with gods and angels, anthropologists’ descriptions of the lives of hunter-gatherers, the role of witchcraft in African societies, first-person narratives of religious conversions, as well as the experimental data assembled by contemporary neuroscientists and evolutionary biologists. Though this different sense of how we fit into the world has largely disappeared from our own societies, it can still come back to us as a fleeting state of mind, “when you are just sitting on some park bench somewhere; or at a wedding, while everyone else is dancing and jumping around; or else one day standing in your backyard, as the sun streams down through the trees . . . ” Experienced in its fullness, this different way of seeing opens onto a stark, new landscape ordinarily hidden from human eyes. Kugel’s look at the whole phenomenon of religious beliefs is a rigorously honest, sometimes skeptical, but ultimately deeply moving affirmation of faith in God. One of our generation’s leading biblical scholars has created a powerful meditation on humanity’s place in the world and all that matters most in our lives. Believers and doubters alike will be struck by its combination of objective scholarship and poetic insight, which makes for a single, beautifully crafted consideration of life’s greatest mystery.
From the Psalms to the Prophets, from job to Ecclesiastes, much of the Bible is written in poetry. The poems of the Bible include some of its best known and most beloved passages: "The Lord is my shepherd," "Let justice roll down like waters," "By the rivers of Babylon," "Remember your Creator," "Arise, shine, for thy light is come!" These poems live in the hearts of those who are familiar with the Bible and offer rich rewards to anyone who is approaching the world's greatest book for the first time. In The Great Poems of the Bible, Harvard scholar James Kugel presents original translations of the most beautiful and important poems of the Scripture. Taken together, these poems represent the very essence of the Hebrew Bible. Reading them one after another is like taking a guided tour through Scripture, meeting firsthand some of its most important teachings and opening the way to an understanding of the Bible as a whole. Each poem is accompanied by an eloquent and accessible explanation of the poem's language, and a reflection on its meaning. These learned, compact essays introduce readers to the broader spiritual world of ancient Israel. What did people in biblical times believe about God? Where is a person's soul located and what does it do? Is there an afterlife? How does one come to "know" God? Why wasn't Eve meant to be Adam's "helpmate" (Kugel shows how this was just a translator's slip-up), and what does the Bible have to say about the role of women? Kugel's sparkling translations of the poems, together with the fascinating insights that accompany them, distill the very best that the Bible and modern scholarship have to offer. Kugel brings new life to some of history's greatest poems, and offers a new look at a Bible we thought we already knew. Here, in one volume, is a "Bible's bible" that belongs in every home.
The first in a series of volumes coming out of programs at the Department of Biblical and Judaic Studies at the University of California, San Diego, this book contains a number of essays originally presented at the Fourth Conversation in Biblical Studies held at UCSD, as well as pieces by each of the editors. Future volumes in the series will include both monographs and, like this one, collected essays.
With the tools of far-reaching revolutions in literary theory and informed by the poetic sense of truth, William Franke offers a critical appreciation and philosophical reflection on a way of reading the Bible as theological revelation. Franke explores some of the principal literary genres of the Bible—Myth, Epic History, Prophecy, Apocalyptic, Writings, and Gospel—as building upon one another in composing a compactly unified edifice of writing that discloses prophetic and apocalyptic truth in a sense that is intelligible to the secular mind as well as to religious spirits. From Genesis to Gospel this revealed truth of the Bible is discovered as a universal heritage of humankind. Poetic literature becomes the light of revelation for a theology that is discerned as already inherent in humanity’s tradition. The divine speaks directly to the human heart by means of infinitely open poetic powers of expression in words exceeding and released from the control of finite, human faculties and the authority of human institutions. The main title of your book, A Theology of Literature, is rather expansive in scope - it's the title of a manifesto - while the subtitle, The Bible as Revelation in the Tradition of the Humanities, narrows the focus to a particular text. This title seems to adumbrate your conception of the relationship between literature and the Bible. What is that relationship? Picking up on your suggestions, I would say that the book is a manifesto for literature as a revelation of the highest sort of truth of which the human heart and intellect are capable, and at the same time a manifesto for theology as the source and core of traditions of human knowledge. The Bible is taken as an outstanding example of both types of discourse, literature and theology, in some of their most marvelous and miraculous revelatory capacities. In the introduction to your book, you ask, "What is a theological reading of the Bible, and what is a literary reading?" This question suggests different methods, different purposes, different outcomes. But you put forward another way of thinking about the relationship between the theological and the literary. What is that way? The usual idea of the "Bible as literature" is that one can read the Bible just as good literature without presupposing any kind of religious belief. This makes it palatable to many who would otherwise not be interested. My approach, likewise, is to read the Bible for all that it is worth as literature, but I find precisely there the Bible's most challenging and authentic theology. Understanding literature in its furthest purport requires a kind of belief in language and the word. It entails a hopeful, loving, and faithful sort of understanding of what is said, and that already constitutes the rudiments of a theology. This is to take the Bible as an especially revealing example of a humanities text. The greatest of these texts generally contain an at least implicitly theological (or sometimes a/theological) dimension to the extent that they envision the final purpose of life and the meaning of the world as a whole. Whether or not they speak of "God," such texts are in a theological register wherever the unity and origin of existence are in question. Personalizing this origin as "God" is one interpretation that remains inevitable and imaginatively compelling for us, since we are persons. You are not reading the Bible as literature in the same way that many others have been doing over the last several decades (even though Robert Alter, one of the foremost practitioners of that art, appears frequently in the pages of your book). Which aspects of the "Bible as literature" approach are, in your view, problematic, at least for your project, and which do you find of continuing value? The tendency to reduce the Bible to mere literature is the approach that I wish to eschew. I emphasize that the Bible is truly revelatory as literature. This enables us to understand theological revelation, too, in a non-dogmatic sense, as having a much more general human validity. Appreciating the literary qualities and excellence of the Bible remains as crucial to my project as to the traditional approach. However, I stress that these literary features are not merely aesthetic effects or ornaments. They can be revelatory of the real. The ultimately real and true, which exceeds objectification and its inevitable oppositions, cannot be apprehended except through the imagination. When you speak of the Bible as revelation, what do you mean? I mean especially that it enables uncanny insight into the nature of reality as a whole and in its deepest core. Revelation conveys an infinite intelligence of life and of everything that concerns us as humans. I recognize knowledge as "revealed" to the extent that it rises beyond ordinary limits to a degree of knowing that somehow fathoms the whole or total or infinite. This means for many that revelation comes from God. But even before presupposing that we know anything about God, we can simply let revelation emerge from this extraordinary capacity of the mind to transcend itself toward what it cannot comprehend. In certain encounters with others, we can experience an infinite depth of love and life that boggles the mind and exceeds comprehension. It can transform our lives. Theological revelation is a compelling interpretation, handed down over generations in the human community, of this register of experience. You seem to make a distinction between revelation and theological revelation. What is that distinction, and what import does it have for your argument? No, I would rather emphasize the continuity between theological revelation and revelation in a more general, phenomenological sense of things simply coming to be known or openly "disclosed." This is important for keeping theology connected with the rest of human knowledge, although human knowledge itself, all along, has also harbored something that transcends it and all its finite means. I say "all along" because this problematic of the self-transcendence of knowledge towards an extra-worldly Other can be traced to the Axial Age in the middle of the first millennium BCE. Of course, a relationship with the Other who reveals himself or herself or itself as God belongs to the full sense of theological revelation as understood in biblical tradition. I consider this as a degree of revelation of our relationship with others envisaged in its absoluteness. What do you mean when you talk about the "poetic potential" of language? Does all language have such potential, even what we might not typically think of as poetic - or even literary? Language has infinite potential for meaning, and poetic language shows and exploits this potential most intensively. Language can be thought of as beginning with one word like "OM" that means everything all at once. By a process of disambiguation, more limited and specific meanings are differentiated from each other and assigned to different words. However, poetic language reverses this process and allows us to hear the multiple meanings buried in our metaphors and to divine the original unity of meaning in language behind the rationally differentiated senses of words in the language that we pragmatically employ, yet with loss of its potential wholeness of meaning. Your book is concerned with the Bible as a humanities text. What is a humanities text and what does a humanities text do? Might we think of any text as having the potential to be a humanities text, as long as it is read "humanistically"? Yes. Being a humanities text is a matter of how a text is read. But certain texts lend themselves more than others to touching on matters of deep and perennial human concern: life and death and love and war, greed and heroism, suffering and hope for liberation, redemption, etc. You state that, prior to modernity, texts, including the Bible, "exercise[d] sovereign authority in determining [their] own meaning and in interrogating the reader and potentially challenging the reader's insight and very integrity." In secular modernity, by contrast, "texts taken as specimens for analysis are dissected according to the will and criteria of a knowing subject considered to be wholly external to them." What implications have modern, secular readings of the Bible, and of literature more generally, had for human knowledge and, indeed, for human existence; and how does our present time - what you call "the 'post-secular' turn of postmodern culture" - change how we relate to the Bible and literature? The modern, secular era is the era of the individual knowing subject. The self-conscious human subject becomes the ground and foundation of all knowing, emblematically with Descartes's "I think therefore I am" as the inaugural proposition of modern philosophy. Hegel construed the history of philosophy this way. Texts become artifacts created by finite human subjects. Prior to this modern era and its constitutive Narcissism, the creation of the text was a much more open affair. It was not under the control of a unitary finite subject, the author. Human authors could be channels for revelations from beyond their own ken. Readers could explore texts for revelations from a higher authority than just the author's own intention. Augustine's reading the Bible as meaning infinitely more than its presumable human authors, starting with Moses, were able to comprehend is a good example (Confessions, Book X-XIII). You quote John 1:14 ("The Word became flesh and dwelt among us") and claim that this statement "announces a general interpretive principle: the meaning of tradition is experienced only in its application to life in the present." Could you unpack that a bit? Meaning in literature and life is much more than just an intellectual sense or dictionary definition. How words mean for us is rooted in our way of existing in the world. They have to take on our own flesh and dwell in and with us in order to realize their full potential to signify. This fact is conveyed poetically by the doctrine of the Incarnation that is clairvoyantly and beautifully expressed in the Gospel of John. A Theology of Literature largely consists of explorations of the revelatory aspects of varying literary genres in the Bible. You look at mythology, epic, history, prophecy, apocalyptic, literature, poetry, and gospel. In the conclusion of your book, you suggest that "[a]ll of these genres, in some manner, are summed up and recapitulated in the Gospel." This is convenient, since we can't discuss each of these genres in depth. How, in brief, does the Gospel provide such a summation and recapitulation? The gospel is a prophetic word in which the archetypal myth of Genesis and the epic history of Exodus and the words of the prophets are fulfilled by the apocalyptic event of Christ as Savior. It contains the life history of the Redeemer and includes many of his own sayings uttered with all their poetry ("Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin," etc.). It brings all these various forms and genres of revelation to a culmination in a word that exceeds all genres, not least history, in order to recast the mold of meaning and the very meaning of "truth." Its truth is made in being enacted and incorporated by those who believe in it and live it. In the terms of I John 1: 6, these are those who would "do the truth." Your book is able to cover significant portions of the Bible despite its brevity, but of course it can't cover everything. The legal materials are one type of literature that doesn't get extended treatment, so I'm curious how you might understand them as revelatory texts within the tradition of the humanities. The legal materials fundamentally express a relationship with God. They enable Israel to live in fellowship with the Lord and as sanctified by his love. "O Lord how I love thy law!" (Psalm 119: 97) exclaims the psalmist. The legal prescriptions in the Bible reveal God and the way to God in very particular circumstances and social conditions. But the relationship with God that they model is potentially valid in all times and places for those who wish to embrace the law as a gift for living in intimacy with the Almighty. What dangers might accompany the recovery of texts as authoritative sources of truth in our post-secular, postmodern age? How might those dangers, should they exist, be avoided or met? The authority of texts read in the perspective of a theology of literature never exempts the readers from responsibility for the implications and consequences that they draw from the text. The authoritativeness of the infinite potential for meaning that is inherent in these texts is in a dimension of depth that underlies all meanings and all being and all creatures. It does not valorize some over others. These determinations are always made by human beings, and they alone bear the responsibility for their choices and acts. The power and authority of the text resides in its infinite potential before the emergence of any divisive distinctions and oppositions. This type of authority of the text does not absolve humans of responsibility. It rather reveals their infinite responsibility for whatever authority they claim or evoke. They give this authority a determinate shape and particular application that is all their own. They are answerable for whether or not their interpretation respects and protects all creatures and creation. Questions by Chris Benda, Divinity Librarian, Vanderbilt University
Engage fourteen essays from an international group of experts There is little direct evidence for formal education in the Bible and in the texts of Second Temple Judaism and early Christianity. At the same time, pedagogy and character formation are important themes in many of these texts. This book explores the pedagogical purpose of wisdom literature, in which the concept of discipline (Hebrew musar) is closely tied to the acquisition of wisdom. It examines how and why the concept of musar came to be translated as paideia (education, enculturation) in the Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible (Septuagint), and how the concept of paideia was deployed by ancient Jewish authors writing in Greek. The different understandings of paideia in wisdom and apocalyptic writings of Second Temple Judaism are this book's primary focus. It also examines how early Christians adapted the concept of paideia, influenced by both the Septuagint and Greco-Roman understandings of this concept. Features A thorough lexical study of the term paideia in the Septuagint Exploration of the relationship of wisdom and Torah in Second Temple Judaism Examination of how Christians developed new forms of pedagogy in competition with Jewish and pagan systems of education
New York Times bestseller! The long-awaited book by the founder of the enormously popular Bullet Journal® organizational system. For years Ryder Carroll tried countless organizing systems, online and off, but none of them fit the way his mind worked. Out of sheer necessity, he developed a method called the Bullet Journal that helped him become consistently focused and effective. When he started sharing his system with friends who faced similar challenges, it went viral. Just a few years later, to his astonishment, Bullet Journaling is a global movement. The Bullet Journal Method is about much more than organizing your notes and to-do lists. It's about what Carroll calls "intentional living": weeding out distractions and focusing your time and energy in pursuit of what's truly meaningful, in both your work and your personal life. It's about spending more time with what you care about, by working on fewer things. His new book shows you how to... * Track the past: Using nothing more than a pen and paper, create a clear and comprehensive record of your thoughts. * Order the present: Find daily calm by tackling your to-do list in a more mindful, systematic, and productive way. * Design the future: Transform your vague curiosities into meaningful goals, and then break those goals into manageable action steps that lead to big change. Carroll wrote this book for frustrated list-makers, overwhelmed multitaskers, and creatives who need some structure. Whether you've used a Bullet Journal for years or have never seen one before, The Bullet Journal Method will help you go from passenger to pilot of your own life.
Culled from The Eerdmans Dictionary of Early Judaism, a monumental, groundbreaking reference work published in late 2010, Early Judaism: A Comprehensive Overview contains fifteen first-rate essays from a diverse group of internationally renowned scholars. This volume provides the most comprehensive and authoritative overview available of Judaism in the Hellenistic and early Roman periods. Contributors: John M. G. Barclay Miriam Pucci Ben Zeev Katell Berthelot John J. Collins Erich S. Gruen Daniel C. Harlow James L. Kugel Adam Kolman Marshak Steve Mason James S. McLaren Maren R. Niehoff David T. Runia Lawrence H. Schiffman Chris Seeman Gregory E. Sterling Loren T. Stuckenbruck Eibert Tigchelaar Eugene Ulrich Annewies van den Hoek James C. VanderKam Jürgen K. Zangenberg
A dazzling reconsideration of the original languages and texts of the Bible, in both the Old and the New Testaments, from the acclaimed scholar and translator of Classical literature (“The best translation of the Aeneid, certainly the best of our time” —Ursula Le Guin; “The first translation since Dryden that can be read as a great English poem in itself” —Garry Wills, The New York Review of Books) and author of Paul Among the People (“Astonishing . . . Superb” —Booklist, starred review). In The Face of Water, Sarah Ruden brilliantly and elegantly explains and celebrates the Bible’s writings. Singling out the most famous passages, such as the Genesis creation story, the Ten Commandments, the Lord’s Prayer, and the Beatitudes, Ruden reexamines and retranslates from the Hebrew and Greek what has been obscured and misunderstood over time. Making clear that she is not a Biblical scholar, cleric, theologian, or philosopher, Ruden—a Quaker—speaks plainly in this illuminating and inspiring book. She writes that while the Bible has always mattered profoundly, it is a book that in modern translations often lacks vitality, and she sets out here to make it less a thing of paper and glue and ink and more a live and loving text. Ruden writes of the early evolution, literary beauty, and transcendent ideals of the Hebrew Bible and the Greek New Testament, exploring how the Jews came to establish the greatest, most enduring book on earth as their regional strategic weakness found a paradoxical moral and spiritual strength through their writings, and how the Christians inherited and adapted this remarkable literary tradition. She writes as well about the crucial purposes of translation, not only for availability of texts but also for accountability in public life and as a reflection of society’s current concerns. She shows that it is the original texts that most clearly reveal our cherished values (both religious and secular), unlike the standard English translations of the Bible that mask even the yearning for freedom from slavery. The word “redemption” translated from Hebrew and Greek, meaning mercy for the exploited and oppressed, is more abstract than its original meaning—to buy a person back from captivity or slavery or some other distress. The Face of Water is as much a book about poetry, music, drama, raw humor, and passion as it is about the idealism of the Bible. Ruden’s book gives us an unprecedented, nuanced understanding of what this extraordinary document was for its earliest readers and what it can still be for us today
Before the Bible reveals the landscape of scripture in an era prior to the crystallization of the rabbinic Bible and the canonization of the Christian Bible. Most accounts of the formation of the Hebrew Bible trace the origins of scripture through source critical excavation of the archaeological "tel" of the Bible or the analysis of the scribal hand on manuscripts in text-critical work, but the discoveries in the Dead Sea Scrolls have transformed our understanding of scripture formation. Judith Newman focuses not on the putative origins and closure of the Bible, but on the reasons why scriptures remained open, with pluriform growth in the Hellenistic-Roman period. Drawing on new methods from cognitive neuroscience and the social sciences as well as traditional philological and literary analysis, Before the Bible argues that the key to understanding the formation of scripture is the widespread practice of individual and communal prayer in early Judaism. The figure of the teacher as a learned and pious sage capable of interpreting and embodying the tradition is central to understanding this revelatory phenomenon. The book considers the entwinement of prayer and scriptural formation in five books reflecting the diversity of early Judaism: Ben Sira, Daniel, Jeremiah/Baruch, Second Corinthians, and the Qumran Hodayot (Thanksgiving Hymns). While not a complete taxonomy of scripture formation, the book illuminates performative dynamics that have been largely ignored as well as the generative role of interpretive tradition in accounts of how the Bible came to be.
The Exodus has become a core tradition of Western civilization. Millions read it, retell it, and celebrate it. But did it happen? Biblical scholars, Egyptologists, archaeologists, historians, literary scholars, anthropologists, and filmmakers are drawn to it. Unable to find physical evidence until now, many archaeologists and scholars claim this mass migration is just a story, not history. Others oppose this conclusion, defending the biblical account. Like a detective on an intricate case no one has yet solved, pioneering Bible scholar and bestselling author of Who Wrote the Bible? Richard Elliott Friedman cuts through the noise — the serious studies and the wild theories — merging new findings with new insight. From a spectrum of disciplines, state-of-the-art archeological breakthroughs, and fresh discoveries within scripture, he brings real evidence of a historical basis for the exodus — the history behind the story. The biblical account of millions fleeing Egypt may be an exaggeration, but the exodus itself is not a myth. Friedman does not stop there. Known for his ability to make Bible scholarship accessible to readers, Friedman proceeds to reveal how much is at stake when we explore the historicity of the exodus. The implications, he writes, are monumental. We learn that it became the starting-point of the formation of monotheism, the defining concept of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Moreover, we learn that it precipitated the foundational ethic of loving one’s neighbors — including strangers — as oneself. He concludes, the actual exodus was the cradle of global values of compassion and equal rights today.
Master Bible scholar and teacher Marc Brettler argues that today's contemporary readers can only understand the ancient Hebrew Scripture by knowing more about the culture that produced it. And so Brettler unpacks the literary conventions, ideological assumptions, and historical conditions that inform the biblical text and demonstrates how modern critical scholarship and archaeological discoveries shed light on this fascinating and complex literature. Brettler surveys representative biblical texts from different genres to illustrate how modern scholars have taught us to "read" these texts. Using the "historical-critical method" long popular in academia, he guides us in reading the Bible as it was read in the biblical period, independent of later religious norms and interpretive traditions. Understanding the Bible this way lets us appreciate it as an interesting text that speaks in multiple voices on profound issues. This book is the first "Jewishly sensitive" introduction to the historical-critical method. Unlike other introductory texts, the Bible that this book speaks about is the Jewish one -- with the three-part TaNaKH arrangement, the sequence of books found in modern printed Hebrew editions, and the chapter and verse enumerations used in most modern Jewish versions of the Bible. In an afterword, the author discusses how the historical-critical method can help contemporary Jews relate to the Bible as a religious text in a more meaningful way.
Winner of the 2017 Manfred Lautenschlaeger Award for Theological Promise Winner of the 2017 The George A. and Jean S. DeLong Book History Book Prize The discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls revealed a world of early Jewish writing larger than the Bible, from multiple versions of biblical texts to "revealed" books not found in our canon. Despite this diversity, the way we read Second Temple Jewish literature remains constrained by two anachronistic categories: a theological one, "Bible," and a bibliographic one,"book." The Literary Imagination in Jewish Antiquity suggests ways of thinking about how Jews understood their own literature before these categories had emerged. In many Jewish texts, there is an awareness of a vast tradition of divine writing found in multiple locations that is only partially revealed in available scribal collections. Ancient heroes such as David are imagined not simply as scriptural authors, but as multidimensional characters who come to be known as great writers who are honored as founders of growing textual traditions. Scribes recognize the divine origin of texts such as Enoch literature and other writings revealed to ancient patriarchs, which present themselves not as derivative of the material that we now call biblical, but prior to it. Sacred writing stretches back to the dawn of time, yet new discoveries are always around the corner. Using familiar sources such as the Psalms, Ben Sira, and Jubilees, Eva Mroczek tells an unfamiliar story about sacred writing not bound in a Bible. In listening to the way ancient writers describe their own literature-rife with their own metaphors and narratives about writing-The Literary Imagination in Jewish Antiquity also argues for greater suppleness in our own scholarly imagination, no longer bound by modern canonical and bibliographic assumptions.
How can humans ever attain the knowledge required to administer and implement divine law and render perfect justice in this world? Contrary to the belief that religious law is infallible, Chaya T. Halberstam shows that early rabbinic jurisprudence is characterized by fundamental uncertainty. She argues that while the Hebrew Bible created a sense of confidence and transparency before the law, the rabbis complicated the paths to knowledge and undermined the stability of personal status and ownership, and notions of guilt or innocence. Examining the facts of legal judgments through midrashic discussions of the law and evidence, Halberstam discovers that rabbinic understandings of the law were riddled with doubt and challenged the possibility of true justice. This book thoroughly engages law, narrative, and theology to explicate rabbinic legal authority and its limits.
The connection between the great high priest and the people of God in Hebrews has proved a central question for many scholars, including Ernst Käsemann. This book examines previous attempts to explain the flow of the argument in Hebrews 3 and 4 and revisits the proposal of J. Rendel Harris, who thought attention to the two Joshuas of the Hebrew Bible was the key to connecting Heb 3:7–4:13 to its frame. It examines Second Temple interpretations of two texts central to the two Joshuas (Numbers 13–14 and Zechariah 3) and concludes with a positive assessment of much of Harris’s proposal.
In the Book of Genesis, the first words God speaks to humanity are "Be fruitful and multiply." From ancient times to today, these words have been understood as a divine command to procreate. Fertility is viewed as a sign of blessedness and moral uprightness, while infertility is associated with sin and moral failing. Reconceiving Infertility explores traditional interpretations such as these, providing a more complete picture of how procreation and childlessness are depicted in the Bible. Closely examining texts and themes from both the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament, Candida Moss and Joel Baden offer vital new perspectives on infertility and the social experiences of the infertile in the biblical tradition. They begin with perhaps the most famous stories of infertility in the Bible—those of the matriarchs Sarah, Rebekah, and Rachel—and show how the divine injunction in Genesis is both a blessing and a curse. Moss and Baden go on to discuss the metaphorical treatments of Israel as a "barren mother," the conception of Jesus, Paul's writings on family and reproduction, and more. They reveal how biblical views on procreation and infertility, and the ancient contexts from which they emerged, were more diverse than we think. Reconceiving Infertility demonstrates that the Bible speaks in many voices about infertility, and lays a biblical foundation for a more supportive religious environment for those suffering from infertility today.
Winner of the AAR's 2016 Award for Excellence in the Study of Religion: Textual Studies How Repentance Became Biblical tells the story of repentance as a concept. Many today, in both secular and religious contexts, assume it to be a natural and inevitable component of our lives. But, where did it originate? How did it become so prominent within Western religious traditions and, by extension, contemporary culture? What purposes does it serve? The book identifies repentance as a product of the Hellenistic period, where it was taken up within emerging forms of Judaism and Christianity as a mode of subjective control. It argues that, along with the rise of repentance, a series of interpretive practices, many of which remain in effect to this day, was put into place whereby repentance is read into the Bible and the Bible, especially the Hebrew Bible, or Old Testament, comes to be seen as repentance's source. Ancient Israelite rituals, such as fasting, prayer, and confession, all of which are incorporated later on within various religious communities as forms of penitential discipline, are understood as external signs of internal remorse. Hebrew terms and phrases, such as the prophetic injunction to "return to YHWH," are read as ancient representations of the concept, repentance. Prophetic literature as a whole is seen as serving a pedagogical purpose, as aiming at the reformation of Israel as a nation. Furthermore, it is assumed that, on the basis of the Bible, sectarians living in the late Second Temple period, from the Dead Sea sect to the early Jesus movement, believed that their redemption depended upon their repentance. In fact, the penitential framework within which the Bible is interpreted tells us the most about our own interpretive tendencies, about how we privilege notions of interiority, autonomy, and virtue. The book develops other frameworks for explaining the biblical phenomena in their ancient contexts, based on alternative views of the body, power, speech, and the divine, and, thereby, offers a new account of repentance's origins.
Pro Ecclesia is a quarterly journal of theology published by the Center for Catholic and Evangelical Theology.
These essays explore new methods and overlooked traditions that appear to shed light on how the founders of the Christian movement understood the older sacred tradition and sought new and creative ways to let it speak to their own times. Gurtner discusses the Matthean version of the temptation narrative. Chandler investigates the exhortation to 'love your neighbour as yourself' from Lev. 19.18b. Talbot re-examines Jesus' offer of rest in Mt. 11.28-30. Myers explores the ways Matthew's appeal to Isa. 42.1-4 in Mt. 12.17-21 affects the characterization of Jesus in his Gospel. Hamilton explores 1 Enoch 6-11 as a retelling of Genesis 3-6. Herzer seeks to explain varuiys aspects of Mt. 27.51b-53. McWhirter explores the citation of Exod 23.20, Mal. 3.1, and Isa. 40.3 in Mk 1.2-3. Hopkins investigates the manner in which Jesus engages questions and persons regarding purity and impurity. Miller notes that victory songs are a generally acknowledges category of Hebrew poetry. Gregerman argues that studies of early Christian proselytism to Gentiles are largely focussed on missionary methods of converts.
The Bible is likely the most-edited book in history, yet the task of editing the Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek texts of the Bible is fraught with difficulties. The dearth of Hebrew manuscripts of the Jewish Scriptures and the substantial differences among those witnesses creates difficulties in determining which text ought to be printed as the text of the Jewish Scriptures. For the New Testament, it is not the dearth of manuscripts but the overwhelming number of manuscripts—almost six thousand Greek manuscripts and many more in other languages—that presents challenges for sorting and analyzing such a large, multivariant data set. This volume, representing experts in the editing of the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament, discusses both current achievements and future challenges in creating modern editions of the biblical texts in their original languages. The contributors are Kristin De Troyer, Michael W. Holmes, John S. Kloppenborg, Sarianna Metso, Judith H. Newman, Holger Strutwolf, Eibert Tigchelaar, David Trobisch, Eugene Ulrich, John Van Seters, Klaus Wachtel, and Ryan Wettlaufer.
1 Chronicles speaks of men “of Issachar, men who had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do.” In our rapidly changing, postmodern culture, we desperately need men who understand the times and know what we ought to do. D. A. Carson is such a man. Renowned as a gifted speaker, writer, theologian, and pastor, Carson has written extensively and persuasively on a wide range of topics and has been a defender of the modern evangelical faith. In appreciation of Carson’s life work, editors Andreas J. Köstenberger and Robert Yarbrough, themselves respected scholars, have assembled a team of contributors, including Stanley Porter, Grant Osborne, Mark Dever, John Woodbridge, Douglas Moo, Peter O’Brien, Eckhard Schnabel, Craig Blomberg, and David Pao, together to produce this volume of essays on New Testament studies in modern times. The book is divided into three parts: New Testament Studies and Ancillary Disciplines, Special Topics in New Testament Studies, and New Testament Studies Around the World. Pastors, professors, and students will benefit not only from the example of a man who understands the times, but also from the high quality of scholarship and wide variety of topics covered in this volume.
Grau reconsiders the relationship between "logos" and "mythos" as a precondition to opening theological hermeneutics to discourse from other cultures and genres, other modes of telling and retelling.
How can we define "Judaism," and what are the common threads uniting ancient rabbis, Maimonides, the authors of the Zohar, and modern secular Jews in Israel? Michael L. Satlow offers a fresh perspective on Judaism that recognizes both its similarities and its immense diversity. Presenting snapshots of Judaism from around the globe and throughout history, Satlow explores the links between vastly different communities and their Jewish traditions. He studies the geonim, rabbinical scholars who lived in Iraq from the ninth to twelfth centuries; the intellectual flourishing of Jews in medieval Spain; how the Hasidim of nineteenth-century Eastern Europe confronted modernity; and the post-World War II development of distinct American and Israeli Jewish identities. Satlow pays close attention to how communities define themselves, their relationship to biblical and rabbinic texts, and their ritual practices. His fascinating portraits reveal the amazingly creative ways Jews have adapted over time to social and political challenges and continue to remain a "Jewish family."
In April of 2001, the headline in the Los Angeles Times read, “Doubting the Story of the Exodus.” It covered a sermon that had been delivered by the rabbi of a prominent local congregation over the holiday of Passover. In it, he said, “The truth is that virtually every modern archeologist who has investigated the story of the exodus, with very few exceptions, agrees that the way the Bible describes the exodus is not the way it happened, if it happened at all.” This seeming challenge to the biblical story captivated the local public. Yet as the rabbi himself acknowledged, his sermon contained nothing new. The theories that he described had been common knowledge among biblical scholars for over thirty years, though few people outside of the profession know their relevance. New understandings concerning the Bible have not filtered down beyond specialists in university settings. There is a need to communicate this research to a wider public of students and educated readers outside of the academy. This volume seeks to meet this need, with accessible and engaging chapters describing how archeology, theology, ancient studies, literary studies, feminist studies, and other disciplines now understand the Bible.
The first in a series of volumes coming out of programs at the Department of Biblical and Judaic Studies at the University of California, San Diego, this book contains a number of essays originally presented at the Fourth Conversation in Biblical Studies held at UCSD, as well as pieces by each of the editors. Future volumes in the series will include both monographs and, like this one, collected essays.
Hundreds of stunning images from black history have long been buried in The New York Times archives. None of them were published by The Times--until now. UNSEEN uncovers these never-before published photographs and tells the stories behind them. It all started with Times photo editor Darcy Eveleigh discovering dozens of these photographs. She and three colleagues, Dana Canedy, Damien Cave and Rachel L. Swarns, began exploring the history behind them, and subsequently chronicling them in a series entitled Unpublished Black History, that ran in print and online editions of The Times in February 2016. It garnered 1.7 million views on The Times website and thousands of comments from readers. This book includes those photographs and many more, among them: a 27-year-old Jesse Jackson leading an anti-discrimination rally of in Chicago, Rosa Parks arriving at a Montgomery Courthouse in Alabama a candid behind-the-scenes shot of Aretha Franklin backstage at the Apollo Theater, Ralph Ellison on the streets of his Manhattan neighborhood, the firebombed home of Malcolm X, Myrlie Evans and her children at the funeral of her slain husband , Medgar, a wheelchair-bound Roy Campanella at the razing of Ebbets Field. Were the photos--or the people in them--not deemed newsworthy enough? Did the images not arrive in time for publication? Were they pushed aside by words at an institution long known as the Gray Lady? Eveleigh, Canedy, Cave, and Swarms explore all these questions and more in this one-of-a-kind book. UNSEEN dives deep into The Times photo archives--known as the Morgue--to showcase this extraordinary collection of photographs and the stories behind them.
Vita Daphna Arbel investigates depictions of the emblematic Eve that are embedded in one of the most influential accounts of Adam and Eve after the Hebrew Bible, namely the apocryphal Greek Life of Adam and Eve (GLAE) from late antiquity.
“[Aciman’s] best so far. . . . An existentialist adventure worthy of Kerouac.”—Clancy Martin, New York Times Book Review André Aciman has been hailed as "the most exciting new fiction writer of the twenty-first century" (New York magazine), a "brilliant chronicler of the disconnect…between who we are and who we wish we might have been" (Wall Street Journal), and a writer of "fiction at its most supremely interesting" (Colm Tóibín). Now, with his third and most ambitious novel, Aciman delivers an elegant and powerful tale of the wages of assimilation—a moving story of an immigrant’s remembered youth and the nearly forgotten costs and sacrifices of becoming an American. It’s the fall of 1977, and amid the lovely, leafy streets of Cambridge a young Harvard graduate student, a Jew from Egypt, longs more than anything to become an assimilated American and a professor of literature. He spends his days in a pleasant blur of seventeenth-century fiction, but when he meets a brash, charismatic Arab cab driver in a Harvard Square café, everything changes. Nicknamed Kalashnikov—Kalaj for short—for his machine-gun vitriol, the cab driver roars into the student’s life with his denunciations of the American obsession with "all things jumbo and ersatz"—Twinkies, monster television sets, all-you-can-eat buffets—and his outrageous declarations on love and the art of seduction. The student finds it hard to resist his new friend’s magnetism, and before long he begins to neglect his studies and live a double life: one in the rarified world of Harvard, the other as an exile with Kalaj on the streets of Cambridge. Together they carouse the bars and cafés around Harvard Square, trade intimate accounts of their love affairs, argue about the American dream, and skinny-dip in Walden Pond. But as final exams loom and Kalaj has his license revoked and is threatened with deportation, the student faces the decision of his life: whether to cling to his dream of New World assimilation or risk it all to defend his Old World friend. Harvard Square is a sexually charged and deeply American novel of identity and aspiration at odds. It is also an unforgettable, moving portrait of an unlikely friendship from one of the finest stylists of our time.
In The Heart of Torah, Rabbi Shai Held's Torah essays--two for each weekly portion--open new horizons in Jewish biblical commentary. Held probes the portions in bold, original, and provocative ways. He mines Talmud and midrashim, great writers of world literature, and astute commentators of other religious backgrounds to ponder fundamental questions about God, human nature, and what it means to be a religious person in the modern world. Along the way, he illuminates the centrality of empathy in Jewish ethics, the predominance of divine love in Jewish theology, the primacy of gratitude and generosity, and God's summoning of each of us--with all our limitations--into the dignity of a covenantal relationship.
Scholarly interest in intertextuality remains as keen as ever. Armed with new questions, interpreters seek to improve their understanding of the function of older scripture in later scripture. The essays assembled in the present collection address these questions. These essays treat pre-Christian texts, as well as Christian texts, that make use of older sacred tradition. They analyze the respective uses of scripture in diverse Jewish and Christian traditions. Some of these studies are concerned with discreet bodies of writings, such as the Dead Sea Scrolls, while others are concerned with versions of scriptures, such as the Hebrew or Old Greek, and text critical issues. Other studies are concerned with how scripture is interpreted as part of apocalyptic and eschatology. Early Christian Literature and Intertextuality includes essays that explore the use of Old Testament scripture in the Gospels and Acts. Other studies examine the Apostle Paul's interpretation of scripture in his letters, while other studies look at non-Pauline writings and their utilization of scripture. Some of the studies in this collection show how older scripture clarifies important points of teaching or resolves social conflict, law, conversion, anthropology, paradise, and Messianism are among the themes treated in these studies, themes rooted in important ways in older sacred tradition. The collection concludes with studies on two important Christian interpreters, Syriac-speaking Aphrahat in the east and Latin-speaking Augustine in the west.
A cursory glance through the Psalter reveals numerous allusions to events in Israel's literary history. While a range of literary and oral sources were obviously available to psalmists, the relationships between these sources and the psalmists' final work are more obscure. Concerning these relationships, numerous questions remain unanswered: - How strictly did the psalmists replicate their sources? - What kinds of alterations did they make (additions, omissions, etc.)? - Did they alter the meaning of their sources in their own compositions? Departing from the more classical approaches to researching the psalms--engaging in the determination of Sitz im Leben and Gattungen--this intertextual study addresses the aforementioned issues by focusing on a group of psalms associated with Israel's exodus tradition (105, 106, 135, and 136). Through a detailed comparison of lexical correspondences between the psalms and other biblical texts, together with a relative dating of each psalm, the study identifies literary sources employed by the psalmists. It additionally includes a close reading of each psalm to establish the unity and meaning of each composition. Emanuel then analyzes and categorizes lexical variances between each psalm and its sources, providing potential explanations for alterations found between the two, and revealing how the psalmists reinterpreted their biblical sources.
“I didn’t think he’d do it. I really didn’t think he would. I thought he’d say, whoa, hold on, wait a minute. We made a deal, remember, the land, the blessing, the nation, the descendants as numerous as the sands on the shore and the stars in the sky.” So begins James Goodman’s original and urgent encounter with one of the most compelling and resonant stories ever told—God’s command to Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac. A mere nineteen lines in the book of Genesis, it rests at the heart of the history, literature, theology, and sacred rituals of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. For more than two millennia, people throughout the world have grappled with the troubling questions about sacrifice, authority, obedience, and faith to which the story gives rise. Writing from the vantage of “a reader, a son, a Jew, a father, a skeptic, a historian, a lover of stories, and a writer,” Goodman gives us an enthralling narrative history that moves from its biblical origins to its place in the cultures and faiths of our time. He introduces us to the commentary of Second Temple sages, rabbis and priests of the late antiquity, and early Islamic exegetes (some of whom imagined that Ishmael was the nearly sacrificed son). He examines Syriac hymns (in which Sarah stars), Hebrew chronicles of the First Crusade (in which Isaac often dies), and medieval English mystery plays. He looks at the art of Europe’s golden age, the philosophy of Kant and Kierkegaard, and the panoply of twentieth-century interpretation, sacred and profane, including the work of Bob Dylan, Elie Wiesel, and A. B. Yehoshua. In illuminating how so many others have understood this story, Goodman tells a gripping and provocative story of his own.
Chapters of the Heart: Jewish Women Sharing the Torah of Our Lives invites readers into the lives of twenty women for whom Jewish language and texts provide a lens for understanding their experiences. The authors don't just use religious words (texts, theologies, or liturgies) like a cookbook. Instead they serve readers something closer to a real meal, prepared with love and intention. Each essay shares one piece of its writer's heart, one chapter of experience as refracted through the author's particular Jewish optic. The authors write about being daughters, mothers, sisters, partners, lovers, and friends. They share their experiences of parenting, infertility, and abortion. One describes accompanying her young husband through his life-threatening illness. Another tells of her daughter's struggle with an eating disorder. Still another reflects on long decline of a parent with Alzheimer's. All these writers wrestle with Jewish texts while growing as rabbis, as feminists, and as interfaith leaders. They open their hearts and minds, telling when Jewish tradition has helped make meaning and, on occasion, when it has come up empty. The results are sometimes inspiring, sometimes provocative. Readers will find new insights into God, into Judaism, and into themselves.
A cutting-edge scholarly review of how the Pentateuch functions as a scripture, and how it came to be ritualized in this way. Understanding the Pentateuch as a Scripture is a unique account of the first five books of the Bible, describing how Jews and Christians ritualize the Pentateuch as a scripture by interpreting it, by performing its text and contents, and by venerating the physical scroll and book. Pentateuchal studies are known for intense focus on questions of how and when the first five books of the Bible were composed, edited, and canonized as scripture. Rather than such purely historical, literary, or theological approaches, Hebrew Bible scholar James W. Watts organizes this description of the Pentateuch from the perspectives of comparative scriptures and religious studies. He describes how the Pentateuch has been used in the centuries since it began to function as a scripture in the time of Ezra, and the origins of its ritualization before that time. The book: Analyzes the semantic contents of the Pentateuch as oral rhetoric that takes the form of stories followed by lists of laws and sanctions Gives equal space to its ritualization in the iconic and performative dimensions as to its semantic interpretation Fully integrates the cultural history of the Pentateuch and Bible with its influence on Jewish and Christian ritual, and in art, music, theatre, and film Understanding the Pentateuch as a Scripture is a groundbreaking work that highlights new research data and organizes the material to focus attention on the Pentateuch’s—and Bible’s— function as a scripture.
Grand Winner of the 2014 Nautilus Book Awards Thoughtful observers agree that the planetary crisis we now face-climate change; species extinction; the destruction of entire ecosystems; the urgent need for a more just economic-political order-is pushing human civilization to a radical turning point: change or perish. But precisely how to change remains an open question. In Earth-honoring Faith, Larry Rasmussen answers that question with a dramatically new way of thinking about human society, ethics, and the ongoing health of our planet. Rejecting the modern assumption that morality applies to human society alone, Rasmussen insists that we must derive a spiritual and ecological ethic that accounts for the well-being of all creation, as well as the primal elements upon which it depends: earth, air, fire, water, and sunlight. He argues that good science, necessary as it is, will not be enough to inspire fundamental change. We must draw on religious resources as well to make the difficult transition from an industrial-technological age obsessed with consumption to an ecological age that restores wise stewardship of all life. Earth-honoring Faith advocates an alliance of spirituality and ecology, in which the material requirements for planetary life are reconciled with deep traditions of spirituality across religions, traditions that include mysticism, sacramentalism, prophetic practices, asceticism, and the cultivation of wisdom. It is these shared spiritual practices that can produce a chorus of world faiths to counter the consumerism, utilitarianism, alienation, oppression, and folly that have pushed us to the brink. Written with passionate commitment and deep insight, Earth-honoring Faith reminds us that we must live in the present with the knowledge that the eyes of future generations will look back at us.
Religion scholar Diana Eck is director of the Pluralism Project, which seeks to map the new religious diversity of the United States, particularly the increasing presence of Hindu, Buddhist, and Muslim communities. In this tenth-anniversary edition of Encountering God, Eck shows why dialogue with people of other faiths remains crucial in today's interdependent world--globally, nationally, and even locally. She reveals how her own encounters with other religions have shaped and enlarged her Christian faith toward a bold new Christian pluralism From the Trade Paperback edition.
PULITZER PRIZE FINALIST • NATIONAL BOOK AWARD FINALIST • Hailed by The Washington Post as “mandatory reading,” and praised by Fareed Zakaria as “intelligent, compassionate, and revealing,” a powerful journey to help bridge one of the greatest divides shaping our world today. If the Oceans Were Ink is Carla Power's eye-opening story of how she and her longtime friend Sheikh Mohammad Akram Nadwi found a way to confront ugly stereotypes and persistent misperceptions that were cleaving their communities. Their friendship-between a secular American and a madrasa-trained sheikh-had always seemed unlikely, but now they were frustrated and bewildered by the battles being fought in their names. Both knew that a close look at the Quran would reveal a faith that preached peace and not mass murder; respect for women and not oppression. And so they embarked on a yearlong journey through the controversial text. A journalist who grew up in the Midwest and the Middle East, Power offers her unique vantage point on the Quran's most provocative verses as she debates with Akram at cafes, family gatherings, and packed lecture halls, conversations filled with both good humor and powerful insights. Their story takes them to madrasas in India and pilgrimage sites in Mecca, as they encounter politicians and jihadis, feminist activists and conservative scholars. Armed with a new understanding of each other's worldviews, Power and Akram offer eye-opening perspectives, destroy long-held myths, and reveal startling connections between worlds that have seemed hopelessly divided for far too long. Praise for If the Oceans Were Ink “A vibrant tale of a friendship.... If the Oceans Were Ink is a welcome and nuanced look at Islam [and] goes a long way toward combating the dehumanizing stereotypes of Muslims that are all too common.... If the Oceans Were Ink should be mandatory reading for the 52 percent of Americans who admit to not knowing enough about Muslims.”—The Washington Post “For all those who wonder what Islam says about war and peace, men and women, Jews and gentiles, this is the book to read. It is a conversation among well-meaning friends—intelligent, compassionate, and revealing—the kind that needs to be taking place around the world.”—Fareed Zakaria, author of The Post-American World “Carla Power’s intimate portrait of the Quran, told with nuance and great elegance, captures the extraordinary, living debate over the Muslim holy book’s very essence. A spirited, compelling read.”—Azadeh Moaveni, author of Lipstick Jihad “Unique, masterful, and deeply engaging. Carla Power takes the reader on an extraordinary journey in interfaith understanding as she debates and discovers the Quran’s message, meaning, and values on peace and violence, gender and veiling, religious pluralism and tolerance.”—John L. Esposito, University Professor and Professor of Islamic Studies, Georgetown University, and author of The Future of Islam “A thoughtful, provocative, intelligent book.”—Diana Abu-Jaber, author of Birds Of Paradise and The Language of Baklava
At the beginning of the twentieth century, many perceived American Jewry to be in a state of crisis as traditions of faith faced modern sensibilities. Published beginning in 1909, Rabbi and Professor Louis Ginzberg’s seven-volume The Legends of the Jews appeared at this crucial time and offered a landmark synthesis of aggadah from classical Rabbinic literature and ancient folk legends from a number of cultures. It remains a hugely influential work of scholarship from a man who shaped American Conservative Judaism. In Louis Ginzberg’s Legends of the Jews: Ancient Jewish Folk Literature Reconsidered, editors Galit Hasan-Rokem and Ithamar Gruenwald present a range of reflections on the Legends, inspired by two plenary sessions devoted to its centennial at the Fifteenth Congress of the World Association of Jewish Studies in August 2009. In order to provide readers with the broadest possible view of Ginzberg’s colossal project and its repercussions in contemporary scholarship, the editors gathered leading scholars to address it from a variety of historical, philological, philosophical, and methodological perspectives. Contributors give special regard to the academic expertise and professional identity of the author of the Legends as a folklore scholar and include discussions on the folkloristic underpinnings of The Legends of the Jews. They also investigate, each according to her or his disciplinary framework, the uniqueness, strengths, and weakness of the project. An introduction by Rebecca Schorsch and a preface by Galit Hasan-Rokem further highlight the folk narrative aspects of the work in addition to the articles themselves. The present volume makes clear the historical and scholarly context of Ginzberg’s milestone work as well as the methodological and theoretical issues that emerge from studying it and other forms of aggadic literature. Scholars of Jewish folklore as well as of Talmudic-Midrashic literature will find this volume to be invaluable reading.
Psalms in the Early Modern World is the first book to explore the use, interpretation, development, translation, and influence of the Psalms in the Atlantic world, 1400-1800. In the age of Reformation, when religious concerns drove political, social, cultural, economic, and scientific discourse, the Bible was the supreme document, and the Psalms were arguably its most important book.The Psalms played a central role in arbitrating the salient debates of the day, including but scarcely limited to the nature of power and the legitimacy of rule; the proper role and purpose of nations; the justification for holy war and the godliness of peace; and the relationship of individual and community to God. Contributors to the collection follow these debates around the Atlantic world, to pre- and post-Hispanic translators in Latin America, colonists in New England, mystics in Spain, the French court during the religious wars, and both Protestants and Catholics in England. Psalms in the Early Modern World showcases essays by scholars from literature, history, music, and religious studies, all of whom have expertise in the use and influence of Psalms in the early modern world. The collection reaches beyond national and confessional boundaries and to look at the ways in which Psalms touched nearly every person living in early modern Europe and any place in the world that Europeans took their cultural practices.