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

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

by James L. Kugel
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How to Read the Bible: A Guide to Scripture, Then and Now by James L. Kugel

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.”

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780743235860
Publisher: Free Press
Publication date: 09/11/2007
Pages: 848
Product dimensions: 6.20(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.60(d)

About the Author

James L. Kugel served as the Starr Professor of Hebrew at Harvard from 1982 to 2003, where his course on the Bible was regularly one of the most popular on campus, enrolling more than nine hundred students. A specialist in the Hebrew Bible and its interpretation, he now lives in Jerusalem. His recent books include The God of Old, In the Valley of the Shadow and the forthcoming The Great Change.

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How to Read the Bible: A Guide to Scripture, Then and Now 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 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.
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.