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The Hidden Book in the Bible [Paperback]

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Item description for The Hidden Book in the Bible by Richard Elliott Friedman...

The renowned biblical scholar uncovers a three-thousand-year-old epic prose work within the pages of the Bible entitled "In the Day" and reveals it here for the first time. Reprint.

Publishers Description

Renowned biblical sleuth and scholar Richard Elliot Friedman reveals the first work of prose literature in the world-a 3000-year-old epic hidden within the books of the Hebrew Bible. Written by a single, masterful author but obscured by ancient editors and lost for millennia, this brilliant epic of love, deception, war, and redemption is a compelling account of humankind's complex relationship with God. Friedman boldly restores this prose masterpiece-the very heart of the Bible-to the extraordinary form in which it was originally written.

Citations And Professional Reviews
The Hidden Book in the Bible by Richard Elliott Friedman has been reviewed by professional book reviewers and journalists at the following establishments -

  • Publishers Weekly Best Books - 01/01/1998 page 47

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Item Specifications...

Studio: HarperOne
Pages   402
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 8" Width: 5.28" Height: 1.02"
Weight:   0.8 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Mar 8, 2016
Publisher   HarperOne
ISBN  0060630043  
ISBN13  9780060630041  
UPC  099455015004  

Availability  0 units.

More About Richard Elliott Friedman

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Richard Elliott Friedman is the Davis Professor of Jewish Studies at the University of Georgia and Katzin Professor of Jewish Civilization Emeritus of the University of California, San Diego. A nationally recognized biblical scholar, Friedman is the author of the bestselling Who Wrote the Bible? as well as The Disappearance of God, The Hidden Book in the Bible, Commentary on the Torah, The Bible with Sources Revealed, and The Exile and Biblical Narrative.
Shawna Dolansky is Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at Northeastern University. She is the author of Now You See It, Now You Don't: The Relationship Between Magic and Religion in the Hebrew Bible and the editor of Sacred History, Sacred Literature.

Richard Elliott Friedman currently resides in the state of California.

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Product Categories

2Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Reference > Old Testament > Old Testament
4Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality

Christian Product Categories
Books > Bible Study > Language Tools

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Reviews - What do customers think about The Hidden Book in the Bible?

Strange & wonderful narrative core of the Old Testament  Dec 3, 2007

This remarkable book identifies the earliest work of prose literature heretofore hidden in the Old Testament. It was extracted from Genesis, Exodus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, I & II Samuel and I Kings. Restored, translated and introduced by Friedman, the narrative does seem to be the work of one author and was probably written in the time of King Solomon. Originally a united story, it was cut up by the Bible's editors so that other narratives, laws and poetry were inserted into and around it.

In the Introduction, Friedman relates how he discovered this story, the reasons for considering it one unified work and where it is found in the Bible. He deals with the different sources called J (this work), E, D and P as used by biblical scholars plus words, phrases, images and themes that appear in J and nowhere else in the Bible. In essence it is a tapestry of interactions between God and mankind. He speculates on the identity of the author, asserting that she/he lived in the Kingdom of Judah most likely in the latter 9th century BC, was probably a lay person and may have been female.

Friedman explains his approached to the translation; he stuck close to the original Hebrew, opting for consistency in the English, retaining idioms when their meaning is clear and using the Tetragrammaton instead of its substitutes. Some of the intricacies will be of interest only to the linguist but I found them fascinating. Footnotes have been kept to a minimum whilst difficult words and passages are explained elsewhere so that the reader is not distracted.

The narrative itself flows with a remarkable rhythm. It is titled "In The Day" from its opening words and consists of approximately three thousand sentences. I am pleased that Friedman keeps it simple in English; reading the text is quite refreshing compared to the Bible translations one is familiar with. Critics of the Bible are often confused as to what the Bible reports and what the Bible teaches. This story is almost pure reportage although in the telling of the story some interesting lessons come to light. It starts with creation and ends with the establishment of the Kingdom of Israel.

In the Afterword, Friedman explores the themes and points out how key elements introduced in the first chapters are resolved in the last two. Themes include the relationship between the sexes and between fathers and sons, fratricide, and the positions of king, priest, prophet and military leader. It is about families in particular and the tension between divine direction and the human desire for independence. It is both history and a novel. Around it, other accounts were added, as well as wisdom literature, poetry and the visions of the prophets in order to assemble the Good Book.

The Textual Notes provide further explanation with reference to verses from Genesis to Kings, whilst the Appendix gives a more detailed treatment of the evidence for the antiquity and unity of the work. It consists of 4 parts: (a) evidence for the unity of the work (b) evidence for its antiquity (c) response to criticism of recent scholarship that claims a late date of composition for these texts (d) a chart demonstrating the distribution of terminology that characterizes In The Day.

Under (a), Friedman presents proof in the form of terminology, narrative continuity, allusion, similarity of whole accounts, repeated prose images and theme, plus a consideration of the implications if this analysis is correct. Under (b) he returns to a discussion of the aforementioned sources like J, P and E and the views of biblical scholars on their antiquity. An interesting fact: the historical referents in this work (J) overwhelmingly relate to Judah, and those of E to Israel (the Northern Kingdom). The linguistic-historical research on the Hebrew language is also considered here.

(D) is introduced by a lengthy analysis of the work of scholars Blum and Van Seters with reference to Hurvitz, Polzin, Rendsburg, Zevit, Halpern, Kaufmann and others. A table titled Distribution Of Terms In Prose Narrative provides comparisons of Hebrew words and expressions in Genesis to Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, I Samuel and II Samuel with the rest of the Old Testament. The book concludes with 10 pages of bibliographic notes on the Introduction, Afterword and Appendix.

A thought-provoking theme of In The Day is the boomerang effect of human actions and the cyclical or echo-effect of mankind's behavior. There are repeating patterns from the earliest times. Also the irony in what I would call the "karmic" nature of this process which applies to good, bad and neutral actions. It is something like a template built into cosmic law and is humorous in some instances.

But by far the most important insight that it provided to this reader is about the nature of God. For better or worse, the God of the Old Testament is often perceived as vengeful and uncompromising. This core text paints a different picture, one of a Deity often torn between justice and mercy. In other words, God gets angry but does not stay angry and forgives upon repentance. This is just my opinion, but it seems that God gets angry about the evil that mankind brings upon itself and does intercede when asked, in order to alleviate it.

Reading this work has greatly piqued my interest in the process of redaction of the Bible. Who were the editors and when was it done? I say this in light of having recently read the equally absorbing book by Jeffrey Satinover titled Cracking the Bible Code, a scholarly work that explores layers of meaning encrypted in the language and Hebrew letters of the five books of Moses. I assume that these hidden codes occur right across In The Day (J) as well as the other aforementioned sources, in other words, cohesively through the final text. This is most intriguing and a matter that really ought to be investigated further.
Excellent scholarship; awkward translation  Oct 10, 2005
Richard Friedman could probably be called the Julius Wellhausen of modern biblical studies. Like Wellhausen did a century ago, Friedman has essentially updated, expanded, and clarified the Documentary Hypothesis so as to make a book on this subject from just 30 years ago seem hopelessly outdated. P in the postexilic period? Psssshaw...

While I had heard of this book before, I was naturally skeptical of its rather large claims, but after seeing the evidence for myself I agree with Friedman's conclusion- J and the Court History, as well as several texts in between, were written by the same author as part of a single narrative (perhaps initially "published" in two volumes), that covered the Hebrews' traditional history from creation to the accession of Solomon.

My only problem is with Friedman's translation of the work- I understand that it was his intention to translate the work as literally as possible, in order for the readers to get a feel of what it may have read like in Hebrew; nonetheless, this really made for awkward reading; I had to put the book down a couple times because the tedious vocabulary was giving me a headache. That may be what it's supposed to sound like in Hebrew, but in English it doesn't necessarily work.

However, the story and commentary are very well-written, the evidence is convincingly-presented, and, underneath the awkward translation, a genius of an author is remembered for the first time in over 2800 years. Worth it in my book.
Actual Oldest Example of Human Prose  Jul 30, 2005
The foremost scholar of the JEPD textual theory of the Torah, Friedman presents his scholarly notes and backgrounds, and the reconstructed text of what he understands to be the original story of the J text, thought to be the oldest narrative of the Torah, which uses Yahweh as the name of God.

Freidman's analytical reconstruction differs from that of Harold Bloom, in "The Book of J." Friedman find the J Writer in much of the material up through the Davidic monarchy of united Israel. Bloom follows the more conservative traditonal view that restricts the J document primarily to Genesis. Friedman interacts with Bloom and other textual critics and their theories.

Friedman presents strong stylistic, linguistic and thematic arguments that this original document goes from Genesis through the establishment of Solomon's reign. He further presents arguments confirming the antiquity of this deep strata of biblical material, proving that this is the oldest known example of prose in any language, as well as the first history (though all ancient "histories" are different in style from the modern western concept of history).

The author further deals critically with its relationship to the early material from the northern kingdom, commonly referred to as E, showing that they both were in final form and already being combined into a single document in Judah.

Together these constitute the two oldest examples of human prose, predating even Greek histories, previously claimed to be the earliest histories. Friedman closes with a devastating detailed argument against recent lines of argument claiming all the biblical texts were written in or after the Babylonian Exile.
Controversial, but fascinating  Jul 2, 2004
If you read Harold Bloom's "The Book Of J", you need to buy this.
The scholarly consensus over most of the past century was that the oldest Biblical stories were from the Yahwist (or "J") source. However, Friedman makes a pretty convincing argument that the J source and another Biblical source, the "Court History of David" were written by the same person. Of course, this means that J is much more recent than previously thought, since it could not pre-date the reign of Solomon (with whom the Court History ends).
Professor makes simple error  Aug 12, 2003
Notice that he lists Gen.32:3- 12 as Gen.32:4-13. I wonder how many points he takes off for that kind of mistake in his classroom?

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