Reading the Book

Burton L. Visotzky, Author Anchor Books $12 (240p) ISBN 978-0-385-41294-0
In this highly accessible and entertaining book, Visotzky, professor of midrash and interreligious studies at the Jewish Theological Seminary, takes readers into the world of the midrash, the rabbinic commentary on the Torah which ultimately became so complex that it was said it would make Moses dizzy. After showing that one of the major sources of the Bible's vitality has been the ongoing and ever-changing debate as to how it is to be interpreted, he examines the hermeneutic of the rabbis and the literature it produced, showing that they were critical readers incapable of fundamentalism in interpretation. He then focuses on the biblical text and the midrash themselves, looking at stories concerning Abraham, Jacob, Moses and others. Particularly effective are the chapters dealing with the binding of Isaac by Abraham and sibling rivalry in the stories of Moses and his brother (Aaron), sister (Miriam) and nephews (Nadav and Avihu). The book is lively with examples drawn from popular culture, such as how we interpret headlines in supermarket tabloids, and references to the work of movie directors like Akira Kurosawa and Pedro Almodovar. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 09/30/1991
Release date: 10/01/1991
Paperback - 240 pages - 978-0-8052-1072-9
Paperback - 256 pages - 978-0-8276-0786-6
Open Ebook - 257 pages - 978-0-8276-1054-5
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