In this Book

How to Read the Bible
summary
Master Bible scholar and teacher Marc Brettler argues that today's contemporary readers can only understand the ancient Hebrew Scripture by knowing more about the culture that produced it. And so Brettler unpacks the literary conventions, ideological assumptions, and historical conditions that inform the biblical text and demonstrates how modern critical scholarship and archaeological discoveries shed light on this fascinating and complex literature. Brettler surveys representative biblical texts from different genres to illustrate how modern scholars have taught us to "read" these texts. Using the "historical-critical method" long popular in academia, he guides us in reading the Bible as it was read in the biblical period, independent of later religious norms and interpretive traditions. Understanding the Bible this way lets us appreciate it as an interesting text that speaks in multiple voices on profound issues. This book is the first "Jewishly sensitive" introduction to the historical-critical method. Unlike other introductory texts, the Bible that this book speaks about is the Jewish one -- with the three-part TaNaKH arrangement, the sequence of books found in modern printed Hebrew editions, and the chapter and verse enumerations used in most modern Jewish versions of the Bible. In an afterword, the author discusses how the historical-critical method can help contemporary Jews relate to the Bible as a religious text in a more meaningful way.

Table of Contents

  1. Cover
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  1. Frontmatter
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  1. Contents
  2. pp. vii-viii
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  1. Preface
  2. pp. ix-xi
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  1. Abbreviations
  2. pp. xiii-xiv
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  1. 1. Reading as a Jew and as a Scholar
  2. pp. 1-6
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  1. 2. What Is the Bible, Anyway?
  2. pp. 7-12
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  1. 3. The Art of Reading the Bible
  2. pp. 13-17
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  1. 4. A Brief History of Israel
  2. pp. 19-28
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  1. 5. With Scissors and Paste: The Sources of Genesis
  2. pp. 29-36
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  1. 6. Creation vs. Creationism: Genesis 1–3 as Myth
  2. pp. 37-47
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  1. 7. The Ancestors as Heroes
  2. pp. 49-59
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  1. 8. Biblical Law: Codes and Collections
  2. pp. 61-72
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  1. 9. Incense Is Offensive to Me: The Cult in Ancient Israel
  2. pp. 73-83
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  1. 10. “In the Fortieth Year . . . Moses Addressed the Israelites”: Deuteronomy
  2. pp. 85-94
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  1. 11. “The Walls Came Tumbling Down”: Reading Joshua
  2. pp. 95-105
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  1. 12. “May My Lord King David Live Forever”: Royal Ideology in Samuel and Judges
  2. pp. 107-115
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  1. 13. “For Israel Tore Away from the House of David”: Reading Kings
  2. pp. 117-127
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  1. 14. Revisionist History: Reading Chronicles
  2. pp. 129-136
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  1. 15. Introduction to Prophecy
  2. pp. 137-147
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  1. 16. “Let Justice Well Up like Water”: Reading Amos
  2. pp. 149-160
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  1. 17. “They Shall Beat Their Swords into Plowshares”: Reading (First) Isaiah
  2. pp. 161-171
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  1. 18. “I Will Make This House like Shiloh”: Reading Jeremiah
  2. pp. 173-183
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  1. 19. “I Will Be for Them a Mini-Temple”: Reading Ezekiel
  2. pp. 185-197
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  1. 20. “Comfort, Oh Comfort My People”: The Exile and Beyond
  2. pp. 199-208
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  1. 21. “Those That Sleep in the Dust . . . Will Awake”: Zechariah, Apocalyptic Literature, and Daniel
  2. pp. 209-218
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  1. 22. Prayer of Many Hearts: Reading Psalms
  2. pp. 219-229
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  1. 23. “Acquire Wisdom”: Reading Proverbs and Ecclesiastes
  2. pp. 231-241
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  1. 24. “Being But Dust and Ashes”: Reading Job
  2. pp. 243-255
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  1. 25. “Drink Deep of Love!”: Reading Song of Songs
  2. pp. 257-266
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  1. 26. “Why Are You So Kind . . . When I Am a Foreigner?”: Reading Ruth vs. Esther
  2. pp. 267-272
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  1. 27. The Creation of the Bible
  2. pp. 273-278
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  1. Afterword: Reading the Bible as a Committed Jew
  2. pp. 279-283
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  1. Notes
  2. pp. 285-338
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  1. Sources Cited
  2. pp. 339-360
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  1. Index of Subjects
  2. pp. 361-371
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  1. Index of Biblical Passages and Other References
  2. pp. 372-384
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