kottke.org posts about jameskugel

How to Read the BibleOct 01 2007

How to Read the Bible

James Kugel is a former professor of Hebrew Studies at Harvard and an Orthodox Jew whose current book, How to Read the Bible, is getting really good reviews. From a NY Times piece on the book:

Most unsettling to religious Jews and Christians may be Kugel's chapters about the origins of God and his chosen people. Kugel says that there is essentially no evidence -- archaeological, historical, cultural -- for the events in the Torah. No sign of an exodus from Egypt; no proof that Israelites ever invaded, much less conquered, Canaan; no indication that Jericho was ever sacked. In fact, quite the contrary: current evidence suggests that the Israelites were probably Canaanites themselves, semi-nomadic highlanders or fleeing city dwellers who gradually separated from their mother culture, established a distinct identity and invented a mythical past.

A first chapter of the book is also available:

In going through the Bible, however, this book will focus not only on what the text says but on the larger question of what a modern reader is to make of it, how it is to be read. This will mean examining two quite different ways of understanding the Bible, those of modern biblical scholars and of ancient interpreters.

(via mr, where the normally unreserved Tyler Cowen says of the book, "[it's] so good I don't know what to say about [it]")

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