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

By James L. Kugel (Author)
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Item description for How to Read the Bible: A Guide to Scripture, Then and Now by James L. Kugel...

A renowned scholar and professor of biblical studies presents an essential introduction and companion to the Bible that combines the controversial discoveries of modern scholarship with the wisdom of ancient interpreters.

Publishers Description
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 naive, 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.

Citations And Professional Reviews
How to Read the Bible: A Guide to Scripture, Then and Now by James L. Kugel has been reviewed by professional book reviewers and journalists at the following establishments -
  • New York Times Book Review - 11/30/2008 page 20

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Item Specifications...

Studio: Free Press
Pages   819
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 8.9" Width: 5.8" Height: 1.5"
Weight:   1.95 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Oct 21, 2008
Publisher   Simon & Schuster
ISBN  0743235878  
ISBN13  9780743235877  

Availability  1 units.
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More About James L. Kugel

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James Kugel is the Starr Professor of Hebrew Literature at Harvard University and Professor of Bible at Bar Ilan University, Israel. He is the author of Poetry and Prophecy, Early Biblical Interpretation and The Idea of Biblical Poetry, the last available from Johns Hopkins. His The Bible as It Was, an introduction to the Torah's ancient interpreters, was published in 1997.

James L. Kugel currently resides in the state of Massachusetts. James L. Kugel has an academic affiliation as follows - Bar-Ilan University, Ramat-Gan, Israel.

James L. Kugel has published or released items in the following series...
  1. Library of Early Christianity

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Product Categories

1Books > Special Features > New & Used Textbooks > Humanities > Religious Studies
2Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Reference > Biographies > Old Testament
3Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Reference > Criticism & Interpretation > Old Testament
4Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Reference > Old Testament
6Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Judaism > Sacred Writings > Hebrew Bible (Old Testament) > Biography

Christian Product Categories
Books > Bible Study > General Studies > General

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Reviews - What do customers think about How to Read the Bible: A Guide to Scripture, Then and Now?

How to Read the Bible  Aug 3, 2008
This is a truly excellent reference book for anyone interested in the history of Biblical interpretation. Indeed, the book might more accurately be called "How the Bible has been Read," since for any given section, it gives an overview of traditional readings, both Christian and Jewish, followed by recent scholarship and biblical studies. The latter includes advances in linguistic and archeological scholarship. Kugel writes in a clear conversational style, the product, no doubt of years of university teaching.
A Catholic Priest View  Jul 17, 2008
Though I have only read about a hundred and fifty pages, I have found Kugel's scholarship outstanding and his writing clear and easy. As a catholic priest it has been a wonderful exposure to good Jewish thought and scholarship. I have found the contrast between the ancient inperpreters and modern scholars extremely helpful. I would be more conversant with modern scholars and not so clear on the more traditional. It is a great help to interpret sections of the Hebrew Bible.

Rev. Joseph Madden
An assesible guide to the meaning of the bible  Jul 5, 2008
This book attempts to integrate both traditional and modern views of the bible. It does this well. It creates layers of meaning that transcend the theological and is well worth reading for those not immersed in a particular theological approach to the meaning of this complex book
"How to Read the Bible"  Apr 30, 2008
Well researched and written book. Understandable by layman as well as biblical scholar. Most enlightening and informative.
ralfbythesea  Feb 29, 2008
Thank you James L. Kugel. I have longed for guidance in understanding the complexities of the Old Testament. Very informative and readable.
Highly recommended.

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