How to Read the Bible: Translating the Culture of the Bible

Marc Brettler, Author . Jewish Publication Society $35 (384p) ISBN 978-0-8276-0775-0

How does a person read the Bible, which is a product of another time and culture, and have it make sense? Brettler, who chairs the department of Near Eastern and Judaic Studies at Brandeis, begins with the complicated web of doctrine, history and myth that is the Hebrew Bible and untangles it until a clear and beautifully drawn picture emerges. His mode of interpretation is the "historical-critical" method—reading the text in its historical setting, employing critical methodology to explicate and, when possible, harmonize "the multiple ancient perceptions of God, preserved in our composite Bible." After explaining his approach, Brettler takes readers through the historical periods of the Bible, placing the stories in their proper context. He explains, for example, the importance of the Jewish exile in Babylon to the people's view of the prophetic calling. He also discusses the poetic books, their formation and content, and the messages of the prophets. The result is an eye-opening journey through a familiar text, a fresh look at an old story. Written for the beginning reader as well as the scholar, this is an outstanding introduction to the Hebrew Bible and the history of Israel, and should be widely read. (Dec.)

Reviewed on: 10/10/2005
Release date: 10/01/2005
Genre: Nonfiction
Open Ebook - 401 pages - 978-0-8276-1001-9
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