cover image The Philosophy of Hebrew Scripture

The Philosophy of Hebrew Scripture

Yoram Hazony. Cambridge Univ., $24.99 trade paper (368p) ISBN 978-0-521-17667-5

Concerns about how secular education ignores the Hebrew Bible because of misunderstandings about the Bible drive this book. Readers who share that concern may not necessarily share Hazony's assessment of why this has happened. Hazony (The Dawn: Political Teachings of the Book of Esther), provost of the Shalem Center in Jerusalem, has written for a number of popular publications, so his desire to make this book reach beyond its primary academic audience seems realistic. Yet this is heavy going for general readers. The introduction alone has 58 footnotes. His argument is, however, provocative: the Hebrew Bible does not conform to the commonly accepted dichotomy of reason versus revelation (and is therefore dismissible as revelation), but can be appreciated for the sophisticated philosophy that it contains. Having quarreled with that distinction, Hazony nonetheless proceeds to accept it and then spends the bulk of the book arguing for the Hebrew Bible as a work of reason. His book is most accessible when examining particular biblical passages and ideas, such as "The Ethics of a Shepherd" and "Truth and Being in the Hebrew Bible." It's slow going but rewarding for biblical studies or philosophy insiders who are receptive to new ideas. (Aug. 28)