THE OLD TESTAMENT: A Brief Introduction

Christoph Levin, Author, Margaret Kohl, Translator , translated from the German by Margaret Kohl. Princeton Univ. $22.95 (216p) ISBN 978-0-691-11394-4

Were Adam and Eve real people? Did Joshua really bring down the city of Jericho, and did Moses actually cross the Red Sea? And, more importantly, do such questions truly matter? Traditional Old Testament studies begin with the creation stories of Genesis and work their way forward to the rebuilding of the Temple. Levin, professor of Old Testament at the University of Munich, begins with the post-exilic writings and reads back into the Old Testament story the insights gained during the important period of Israel's captivity in Babylon, and its subsequent return to Jerusalem. This method dramatically alters the way readers understand the stories, putting aside issues of historical accuracy and instead focusing on theological and religious development. He further insists that the compilers of the canon treated the text in this same way. Utilizing the basic assumptions of the Documentary Hypothesis—multiple authorship and wide redaction of the scriptural texts—Levin provides a framework for reinterpreting the biblical stories as theological reflections of an emerging Jewish nation and its self-identification as God's covenant people. Levin assumes that the readers of this slim volume are able and thoughtful students, but he also accommodates those who are unfamiliar with the field of higher criticism. This is a fine introduction to the study of the Old Testament. (May)

Reviewed on: 03/28/2005
Release date: 03/01/2005
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