How to Read the Bible: A Guide to Scripture, Then and Now
  • Alternative view 1 of How to Read the Bible: A Guide to Scripture, Then and Now
  • Alternative view 2 of How to Read the Bible: A Guide to Scripture, Then and Now

How to Read the Bible: A Guide to Scripture, Then and Now

3.8 11
by James L. Kugel
     
 

ISBN-10: 0743235878

ISBN-13: 9780743235877

Pub. Date: 10/21/2008

Publisher: Free Press

Scholars from different fields have joined forces to reexamine every aspect of the Hebrew Bible. Their research, carried out in universities and seminaries in Europe and America, has revolutionized our understanding of almost every chapter and verse. But have they killed the Bible in the process?

In How to Read the Bible, Harvard professor James

…  See more details below

Overview

Scholars from different fields have joined forces to reexamine every aspect of the Hebrew Bible. Their research, carried out in universities and seminaries in Europe and America, has revolutionized our understanding of almost every chapter and verse. But have they killed the Bible in the process?

In How to Read the Bible, Harvard professor James Kugel leads the reader chapter by chapter through the "quiet revolution" of recent biblical scholarship, showing time and again how radically the interpretations of today's researchers differ from what people have always thought. The story of Adam and Eve, it turns out, was not originally about the "Fall of Man," but about the move from a primitive, hunter-gatherer society to a settled, agricultural one. As for the stories of Cain and Abel, Abraham and Sarah, and Jacob and Esau, these narratives were not, at their origin, about individual people at all but, rather, explanations of some feature of Israelite society as it existed centuries after these figures were said to have lived. Dinah was never raped — her story was created by an editor to solve a certain problem in Genesis. In the earliest version of the Exodus story, Moses probably did not divide the Red Sea in half; instead, the Egyptians perished in a storm at sea. Whatever the original Ten Commandments might have been, scholars are quite sure they were different from the ones we have today. What's more, the people long supposed to have written various books of the Bible were not, in the current consensus, their real authors: David did not write the Psalms, Solomon did not write Proverbs or Ecclesiastes; indeed, there is scarcely a book in the Bible that is not the product of different, anonymous authors and editors working in different periods.

Such findings pose a serious problem for adherents of traditional, Bible-based faiths. Hiding from the discoveries of modern scholars seems dishonest, but accepting them means undermining much of the Bible's reliability and authority as the word of God. What to do? In his search for a solution, Kugel leads the reader back to a group of ancient biblical interpreters who flourished at the end of the biblical period. Far from naïve, these interpreters consciously set out to depart from the original meaning of the Bible's various stories, laws, and prophecies — and they, Kugel argues, hold the key to solving the dilemma of reading the Bible today.

How to Read the Bible is, quite simply, the best, most original book about the Bible in decades. It offers an unflinching, insider's look at the work of today's scholars, together with a sustained consideration of what the Bible was for most of its history — before the rise of modern scholarship. Readable, clear, often funny but deeply serious in its purpose, this is a book for Christians and Jews, believers and secularists alike. It offers nothing less than a whole new way of thinking about sacred Scripture.

Read More

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780743235877
Publisher:
Free Press
Publication date:
10/21/2008
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
848
Sales rank:
248,889
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.50(d)

Table of Contents

Preliminaries

1. The Rise of Modern Biblical Scholarship

2. The Creation of the World — and of Adam and Eve

3. Cain and Abel

4. The Great Flood

5. The Tower of Babel

6. The Call of Abraham

7. Two Models of God and the "God of Old"

8. The Trials of Abraham

9. Jacob and Esau

10. Jacob and the Angel

11. Dinah

12. Joseph and His Brothers

13. Moses in Egypt

14. The Exodus

15. A Covenant with God

16. The Ten Commandments

17. A Religion of Laws

18. Worship on the Road

19. P and D

20. On the Way to Canaan

21. Moses' Last Words

22. Joshua and the Conquest of Canaan

23. Judges and Chiefs

24. The Other Gods of Canaan

25. Samuel and Saul

26. The Psalms of David

27. David the King

28. Solomon's Wisdom

29. North and South

30. The Book of Isaiah(s)

31. Jeremiah

32. Ezekiel

33. Twelve Minor Prophets

34. Job and Postexilic Wisdom

35. Daniel the Interpreter

36. After Such Knowledge...

Picture Credits

A Note to the Reader

Notes

Subject Index

Verses Cited

Read More

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >

How to Read the Bible: A Guide to Scripture, Then and Now 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 11 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I don't know what universe the previous reviewer lives in, (the one with One Star) but this is the smartest, best-written, most even-handed book of Biblical Scholarship I have ever read. I don't blindly worship Harvard, but I can see why Kugel had the most popular cours there for many years. It is not only brilliant about the bible and its interpretations, it is a model for how an educated person should approach any subject where the truth claims are competing. Kugel is an Orthodox Jewish believer. I am a Buddhist atheist. But his noble search for truth first and foremost is to be admired by all humans of whatever relation to God.
Guest More than 1 year ago
For the past four years, I have been heavily involved in an examination of theology and biblical scholarship to add depth and more recent sources to my pre-law school religion minor of 35 years ago. Kugel moves effortlessly through biblical scholars as well as Hobbes and Spinoza, among others. I obtained this volume because the N.Y. Times listed it as one of the 'Ten Best' books of 2007. It is that and much more. Anyone who truly wants to understand the Bible, particularly the Old Testament, should read this.
sageoffolly More than 1 year ago
Fundamentalists will find this difficult to enjoy. The author begins by showing that reading the bible "literally" is a relatively new concept (the last 150 yrs or so) and that for most of history Christians understood the Bible should not be read literally. If you can't handle that basic truth, this book isn't for you. If it is, the author shows how ancient methods of interpreting the text are relevant today and can save the Bible from the problems introduced by literalism. Although the author is Jewish he is also well versed in early Christian exegesis.    
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
As a student this is an adjunct support for learning the Bible.
Penicillin More than 1 year ago
Vastly interesting book, written in an informal and captivating style. I was surprised that it was stacked under "Christian Reference" as it deals with the Old Testament. Author is a former Harvard professor, and it is easy to see why his course on the Bible was one of the very most popular at that school. He is an orthodox Jew, now living in Israel. I really enjoyed reading this; it was rather eye-opening.
TedMorgan More than 1 year ago
This is a terrific book. It is fun to read. The review blurb from "The Washington Post" from a review by Jerome M. Segal is on the mark. It is a through introduction to the Hebrew Bible by a distinguished scholar. This book includes accounts of ancient and modern interpretation along with sharp summaries of texts that make the Hebrew Bible intelligible.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
If you're looking for a Bible study, this is not the book for you. Typical of modern 'scholastics', the author undermines common Biblical knowledge based on scant, reaching, and sometimes laughable evidence. The law of the simplest thing being probably true is totally ignored here, and in doing so the author arrogantly pets himself and his profession as being the one true God of knowledge.
MichelleIrene More than 1 year ago
The Bible was written by man but inspired by God. God knew that we as humans would try to complicate this, that is why He made things simple for us. When you read the Bible read it literally. If it says that the Red Sea was parted that is what happened. Some people try to take the Bible and study it like any other subject. They get degrees in religion and handle it like a piece of liturature but that is not what it was intended for. The Bible was written to show us how to live and how to get back to the Father in Heaven. The devil (yes he does exist) wants us to think that the Bible is not the true living word of God. He wants us to think that He didn't do the miracles and that Jesus was just a good man who walked the earth just helping people out and not the Savior of the world. Back during the first days of Chrisianity the devil tried to kill off God's people to shut them up but he realized that noone can stop what God has started. So he is perverting the word of God more viciously than he did when he lied to Eve. So if you want to know God and be saved through the blood of Jesus Christ Read the Bible. Romans 10:9 reads, "That if you confess with you mouth, 'Jesus is Lord' and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved." It's that simple. Believe it in your heart and confess it with your mouth that is what you must do. God will instruct you from there. It sounds easy but we make it hard. There is no amount of work you can do to be saved it is all in your faith. If any other book tries to tell you something different it's not God. Have faith and trust God.