THE GOD OF OLD: Inside the Lost World of the Bible

James L. Kugel, Author . Free Press $25 (288p) ISBN 978-0-7432-3584-6

Kugel (The Bible As It Was) again exerts his considerable command over a wide array of biblical texts and topics to provide a masterful survey of the way ancient Israelites understood God. Biblical texts written around the time of late Judaism, he says, tend to portray God as a universal, omnipresent, but remote deity. Not so with the earliest biblical texts; the Genesis stories about angels or the Exodus commandments against the worship of false gods depict God as a deity who is close to this world and to humanity. Far from being remote, this God hears the cries of the victims of oppression and responds in physical ways by sending the divine presence. So close is the God of old to the people of Israel that this God breaks through the thin veil dividing the spiritual and material world to reveal itself. Thus, this God, according to Kugel, gets close enough to Moses that Moses hears God proclaim the name of the Lord. The prohibition against idols indicates that this God is a different kind of God than those in surrounding cultures, one who appears in a privileged moment and space not confined to a statue. In glimmering prose, Kugel leads us on a mesmerizing tour of the differences between early and modern conceptions of God. (Mar. 11)

Reviewed on: 01/27/2003
Release date: 03/01/2003
Paperback - 288 pages - 978-0-7432-3585-3
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