The Particulars of Rapture: Reflections on Exodus

Avivah Gottlieb Zornberg, Author
Avivah Gottlieb Zornberg, Author Doubleday Books $35 (592p) ISBN 978-0-385-49152-5
Reviewed on: 02/01/2001
Release date: 02/01/2001
Paperback - 592 pages - 978-0-385-49153-2
Paperback - 582 pages - 978-0-8052-1237-2
Open Ebook - 592 pages - 978-0-8052-1244-0
Open Ebook - 1 pages - 978-1-299-06624-3
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A stellar sequel to Zornberg's book on Genesis (The Beginning of Desire, which won the Jewish Book Award in 1995), this hefty volume offers a literary look at the second book of the Bible. Zornberg, who has taught English literature at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, is especially interested in women, exploring why, after women play such a vital role in Genesis, they are all but absent from Exodus. Even when Zornberg departs from that question--and from the larger biblical themes of exodus and redemption--she offers clever analysis on almost every page. For Bible-readers who rely on English translations, Zornberg explains some of the Torah's Hebrew word-plays (such as the repetition of the Hebrew root for ""life"" when Pharaoh, who ordered the midwives to kill all Hebrew baby boys, asks them why they have instead let the babies live). Zornberg shows the literary similarities between the conversion of Jethro (Moses' father-in-law) and the revelation of the Torah on Mount Sinai. She weaves together insights from the Talmud, Emmanuel Levinas, Rav Kook, Franz Rosenzweig and T.S. Eliot. The book will be a challenge for readers who aren't highly literate in Judaism, which means that many interested Jewish and Christian readers will find themselves lost, wondering too often, ""Who is the Sefath Emeth? Who or what is the Targum?"" This is unfortunate, because this book's many riches should be accessible to the entire Exodus-reading world. (Feb.)
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