The Book of J

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Overview

Scholars agree that the first strand in Genesis, Exodus, and Numbers was written by an author whom they call J, who lived in the tenth century before Christ.

In The Book of J, accompanying David Rosenberg's startling new translation, America's greatest literary critic, Harold Bloom, asserts that J was a writer of the stature of Homer, Shakespeare, and Tolstoy and puts forth ...
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Overview

Scholars agree that the first strand in Genesis, Exodus, and Numbers was written by an author whom they call J, who lived in the tenth century before Christ.

In The Book of J, accompanying David Rosenberg's startling new translation, America's greatest literary critic, Harold Bloom, asserts that J was a writer of the stature of Homer, Shakespeare, and Tolstoy and puts forth the revolutionary idea that J was very likely a woman.

J was a genius with unmatched powers of irony and characterization, as shown in her unforgettable and very human portraits of Abram and Sarai, Rebecca, Jacob and Rachel, Joseph, Tamar, and Moses — and, above all, God, or Yahweh. The Book of F reclaims the Bible's first and greatest author and presents us with the full grandeur of her creation.

This controversial national bestseller is an audacious work of literary restoration revealing one of the great narratives of all time and unveiling its mysterious author. The Book of J is an innovative look at the text that runs through the first five books of the Old Testament--a text probably written by an ancient woman. "A bold and deeply meditated translation . . . beguiling."--The New York Times Book Review. (Religious Reference / Study Guides)

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
This controversial, bestselling collaboration is a translation of and critical look at text within Genesis, Exodus, Numbers and Deuteronomy written by an ostensibly female author known only as ``J.'' (Nov.)no PW
Library Journal
Modern biblical critics have called the author of the oldest texts in the Hebrew Bible J, standing for Jahweh. Bloom and translator Rosenberg, authors of many works of literary criticism and of Jewish and biblical studies, have collaborated on a clear but controversial translation and analysis of parts of the Pentateuch using the term Jahweh. Bloom claims that the author of J was a woman, living in or at the time of the Solomonic court, 950-900 B.C.E., who wrote these selections not as a religious or historical treatise but as a literary work that Bloom compares to Shakespeare. While Rosenberg's translation is both modern and moving, he has made significant changes in the meanings of the Hebrew text. The proofs offered for these theories are no substitute for hard evidence. Nevertheless, The Book of J deserves consideration as a literary work.-- Maurice Tuchman, Hebrew Coll. Lib., Brookline, Mass.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780679736240
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 11/1/1991
  • Series: Vintage Series
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 352
  • Product dimensions: 5.20 (w) x 8.02 (h) x 0.77 (d)

Meet the Author

Harold Bloom
Harold Bloom
One of our most popular, respected, and controversial literary critics, Yale University professor Harold Bloom’s books – about, variously, Shakespeare, the Bible, and the classic literature – are as erudite as they are accessible.

Biography

"Authentic literature doesn't divide us," the scholar and literary critic Harold Bloom once said. "It addresses itself to the solitary individual or consciousness." Revered and sometimes reviled as a champion of the Western canon, Bloom insists on the importance of reading authors such as Shakespeare, Milton, and Chaucer -- not because they transmit certain approved cultural values, but because they transcend the limits of culture, and thus enlarge rather than constrict our sense of what it means to be human. As Bloom explained in an interview, "Shakespeare is the true multicultural author. He exists in all languages. He is put on the stage everywhere. Everyone feels that they are represented by him on the stage."

Bloom began his career by tackling the formidable legacy of T.S. Eliot, who had dismissed the English Romantic poets as undisciplined nature-worshippers. Bloom construed the Romantic poets' visions of immortality as rebellions against nature, and argued that an essentially Romantic imagination was still at work in the best modernist poets.

Having restored the Romantics to critical respectability, Bloom advanced a more general theory of poetry. His now-famous The Anxiety of Influence argued that any strong poem is a creative "misreading" of the poet's predecessor. The book raised, as the poet John Hollander wrote, "profound questions about... how the prior visions of other poems are, for a true poet, as powerful as his own dreams and as formative as his domestic childhood." In addition to developing this theory, Bloom wrote several books on sacred texts. In The Book of J, he suggested that some of the oldest parts of the Bible were written by a woman.

The Book of J was a bestseller, but it was the 1994 publication of The Western Canon that made the critic-scholar a household name. In it, Bloom decried what he called the "School of Resentment" and the use of political correctness as a basis for judging works of literature. His defense of the threatened canon formed, according to The New York Times, a "passionate demonstration of why some writers have triumphantly escaped the oblivion in which time buries almost all human effort."

Bloom placed Shakespeare along with Dante at the center of the Western canon, and he made another defense of Shakespeare's centrality with Shakespeare: The Invention of the Human, an illuminating study of Shakespeare's plays. How to Read and Why (2000) revisited Shakespeare and other writers in the Bloom pantheon, and described the act of reading as both a spiritual exercise and an aesthetic pleasure.

Recently, Bloom took up another controversial stance when he attacked Harry Potter in an essay for The Wall Street Journal. His 2001 book Stories and Poems for Extremely Intelligent Children of All Ages advanced an alternative to contemporary children's lit, with a collection of classic works of literature "worthy of rereading" by people of all ages.

The poet and editor David Lehman said that "while there are some critics who are known for a certain subtlety and a certain judiciousness, there are other critics... who radiate ferocious passion." Harold Bloom is a ferociously passionate reader for whom literary criticism is, as he puts it, "the art of making what is implicit in the text as finely explicit as possible."

Good To Know

Bloom earned his Ph.D. from Yale University in 1955 and was hired as a Yale faculty member that same year. In 1965, at the age of 35, he became one of the youngest scholars in Yale history to be appointed full professor in the department of English. He is now Sterling Professor of Humanities at Yale and Berg Visiting Professor of English at New York University.

Though some conservative commentators embraced Bloom's canon as a return to traditional moral values, Bloom, who once styled himself "a Truman Democrat," dismisses attempts by both left- and right-wingers to politicize literature. "To read in the service of any ideology is not, in my judgment, to read at all," he told a New York Times interviewer.

His great affinity for Shakespeare has put Bloom in the unlikely position of stage actor on occasion; he has played his "literary hero," port-loving raconteur Sir John Falstaff, in three productions.

Bloom is married to Jeanne, a retired school psychologist whom he met while a junior faculty member at Yale in the 1950s. They have two sons.

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    1. Also Known As:
      Harold Irving Bloom (full name)
    2. Hometown:
      New York, New York and New Haven, Connecticut
    1. Date of Birth:
      July 11, 1930
    2. Place of Birth:
      New York, New York
    1. Education:
      B.A., Cornell University, 1951; Ph.D., Yale University, 1955

Customer Reviews

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 25, 2000

    not a review but a question.

    In this unique book there are several simularities between 'J' and the prophet Jonah. they lived around the same time. Both were Hebrew under the rule of Jerobaum II. Assuming the 'Book of Jonah' was written by the prophet, which illustrates all the charactoristics of a passionate yet powerfull writter and plus of course the obvious his name beggins with the letter J. My question is, Could the three texts of gennesis, exidus,and numbers, been written by the same oracle sent to nineveth by gods command?

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 13, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

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