Sinning in the Hebrew Bible: How the Worst Stories Speak for Its Truth

Alan F. Segal, Author
Alan Segal. Columbia Univ, $89.50 (288p) ISBN 978-0-231-15927-2
Reviewed on: 05/14/2012
Release date: 07/01/2012
Hardcover - 296 pages - 978-0-231-15926-5
Open Ebook - 297 pages - 978-1-306-31064-2
Open Ebook - 359 pages - 978-0-231-50434-8
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Subtitle notwithstanding, this book by the late Barnard College professor of religion and Jewish Studies embraces the difficulties of determining the origins and even sense of some of the Bible’s most unpleasant texts. In his own words, “If you think that you are 100 percent right about what the Bible says, then you are not working in the world of scholarship.” Segal (Rebecca’s Children: Judaism and Christianity in the Roman World) champions an attitude of disinterest applied to the process of investigation. The result is a book rich in information for intelligent nonspecialists, written in an accessible style that doesn’t scrimp on complicated or challenging matters. There is little new for the world of biblical scholarship, but Segal uses new ways to show general readers how complex is the Bible’s history of development. His comparison of select and related passages, aiming to demonstrate how ancestral narratives proved meaningful to an Israelite audience responsible for yet later biblical texts, results in a lucid treatment of the issues. (July 17)
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