Biblical texts create worlds of meaning, and invite readers to enter them. When readers enter such textual worlds, which are often strange and complex, they are confronted with theological claims. With this in mind, the purpose of the Interpreting Biblical Texts series is to help serious readers in their experience of reading and interpreting by providing guides for their journeys into textual worlds. The controlling perspective is expressed in the operative word of the title--interpreting. The primary focus of the series is not so much on the world behind the texts or out of which the texts have arisen as on the worlds created by the texts in their engagement with readers.
Although these books of the prophets are based upon the careers and experiences of some of the most talented and provocative individuals of their times, the books must be read first as literature. Each book displays its own unique organization, literary characteristics, and theological outlook in presenting the prophets. In the case of Jeremiah, interpreters must even consider two distinctive forms of the book in the Hebrew Bible and the Greek Septuagint. By guiding the reader through the literary structure and language of each of the prophetic books as well as the social roles of the individual prophets, this volume opens the reader to greater understanding and appreciation of the prophets of Israel and Judah.
"Fact packed and crystal clear, Marvin Sweeney’s Interpreting Biblical Texts: The Prophetic Literature invites readers to tour the landscape of ancient Israel’s Latter Prophets corpus. Sweeney serves as a first-rate guide, equipping readers with basic knowledge to grasp, and grapple with, the literary legacies of the canonical prophets. True to the series title, he interprets texts with an eye to major, dynamic themes in Jewish and Christian traditions. The volume proves a reliable guidebook for readers wishing not only to survey, but also to engage in dialogue with, ancient Israel’s canonical prophets."
Katheryn Pfisterer Darr, Professor of Hebrew Bible, Boston University
"The aim of the series Interpreting Biblical Texts is pedagogical. This well-written, easy to follow, and coherent book serves its purpose well. More importantly, it certainly invites and guides its readers in the enterprise of interacting with the prophetic books in a way that is informed by recent, academic scholarship on this literature."
Ehud Ben Zvi, History and Classics & Interdisciplinary Program of Religious Studies, University of Alberta
"This is a new and interesting approach to the prophetic literature, which will be illuminating for theological reflection in our own post-Holocaust era."
John J. Collins, Holmes Professor of Old Testament, Yale
Marvin A. Sweeney is Professor of Hebrew Bible, Claremont School of Theology, and Professor of Religion at Claremont Graduate University.
The Old Testament Library provides fresh and authoritative treatments of important aspects of Old Testament study through commentaries and general surveys. The contributors are scholars of international standing.
Discussion throughout the volume will focus on how the text presents the origins or early history of Israel and its ideals or how it employs narrative and law to provide the foundations for an ideal national and religious identity.
The volume will conclude with a brief treatment of how the Pentateuch is read in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.
Edith Hahn was an outspoken young woman in Vienna when the Gestapo forced her into a ghetto and then into a slave labor camp. When she returned home months later, she knew she would become a hunted woman and went underground. With the help of a Christian friend, she emerged in Munich as Grete Denner. There she met Werner Vetter, a Nazi Party member who fell in love with her. Despite Edith's protests and even her eventual confession that she was Jewish, he married her and kept her identity a secret.
In wrenching detail, Edith recalls a life of constant, almost paralyzing fear. She tells how German officials casually questioned the lineage of her parents; how during childbirth she refused all painkillers, afraid that in an altered state of mind she might reveal something of her past; and how, after her husband was captured by the Soviets, she was bombed out of her house and had to hide while drunken Russian soldiers raped women on the street.
Despite the risk it posed to her life, Edith created a remarkable record of survival. She saved every document, as well as photographs she took inside labor camps. Now part of the permanent collection at the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., these hundreds of documents, several of which are included in this volume, form the fabric of a gripping new chapter in the history of the Holocaust—complex, troubling, and ultimately triumphant.
In this enlightening biography, Joseph Telushkin offers a captivating portrait of the late Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, a towering figure who saw beyond conventional boundaries to turn his movement, Chabad-Lubavitch, into one of the most dynamic and widespread organizations ever seen in the Jewish world. At once an incisive work of history and a compendium of Rabbi Schneerson's teachings, Rebbe is the definitive guide to understanding one of the most vital, intriguing figures of the last centuries.
From his modest headquarters in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, the Rebbe advised some of the world's greatest leaders and shaped matters of state and society. Statesmen and artists as diverse as Ronald Reagan, Robert F. Kennedy, Yitzchak Rabin, Menachem Begin, Elie Wiesel, and Bob Dylan span the spectrum of those who sought his counsel. Rebbe explores Schneerson's overarching philosophies against the backdrop of treacherous history, revealing his clandestine operations to rescue and sustain Jews in the Soviet Union, and his critical role in the expansion of the food stamp program throughout the United States. More broadly, it examines how he became in effect an ambassador for Jews globally, and how he came to be viewed by many as not only a spiritual archetype but a savior. Telushkin also delves deep into the more controversial aspects of the Rebbe's leadership, analyzing his views on modern science and territorial compromise in Israel, and how in the last years of his life, many of his followers believed that he would soon be revealed as the Messiah, a source of contention until this day.
A stunning novel based on the true story of how German war profiteer and factory director Oskar Schindler came to save more Jews from the gas chambers than any other single person during World War II. In this milestone of Holocaust literature, Thomas Keneally, author of Daughter of Mars, uses the actual testimony of the Schindlerjuden—Schindler’s Jews—to brilliantly portray the courage and cunning of a good man in the midst of unspeakable evil.
As an introduction to the world of Hebrew thought, Our Father Abraham is biblical, historical, and cultural in nature. At the same time, the writing is personal and passionate, reflecting Marvin Wilson's own spiritual pilgrimage and his extensive dialogue with Jews. The book (1) develops a historical perspective on the Jewish origins of the church, (2) sets forth the importance and nature of Hebrew thought, (3) discusses how the church can become more attuned to the Hebraic mind-set of Scripture, and (4) offers practical suggestions for interaction between Jews and Christians.
The study questions at the end of each chapter enhance the book's usefulness as a text and also make it suitable for Bible-study and discussion groups. All Christians--and Jews too--will profit from Wilson's sensible treatments of biblical texts, his thorough understanding of both the Christian and the Jewish faith, and his honest historical analysis of the general failure of the Christian church to acknowledge and understand its relation to Judaism.
In The Truth behind Truths, author Cedric Boswell shares the history of the Jews as revealed in the Bible. He asks pertinent questions not often seen in typical histories and provides Scriptures in support of his answers. Beginning with Adam, Boswell relates different stories of Jews in the Bible and how they are truly the chosen people of God.
Boswell argues that those who currently call themselves Jews do not fit the historic evidence in their looks or how they were dispersed from Israel. He discusses skin pigmentation and explains that many of the early Jewish people were black and not white. He then explores the subject of God’s elect, the genealogy of the Jews, and the tribes of Israel. In the last section, Boswell tackles the heavy yet crucial subject of redemption.
An unorthodox and intriguing study, The Truth behind Truths seeks to open your eyes to new questions and new perspectives on the Jews of the Bible.
This translation is based on Gra version of the Sefer Yetzirah and includes the author's extraordinary commentary on all its mystical aspects including kabbalistic astrology, Ezekiel's vision and the 231 gates. Also included are three alternative versions to make this volume the most complete work on the Sefer Yetzirah available in English.
Jews-to-be often find the steps to Judaism foreign, complex, and mysterious. From learning an ancient language, to entering the mikvah (ritual bath), to choosing a Hebrew name, to circumcision, to appearing before a bet din (Jewish court), becoming a Jew is anything but quick and easy. In this engaging and accessible guide, Reuben and Hanin offer practical wisdom for every step of conversion, including:
telling family and friends selecting a denominationchoosing a rabbiunderstanding Jewish ritualscelebrating Jewish holidaysputting aside childhood holidayskeeping ties to the pastadvice on weddings, raising kids, and more
Throughout, the authors focus on developing a healthy spiritual life, while helping readers understand what it means to be Jewish, absorb Jewish teachings, and live a Jewish life.
A compelling and readable account of the four thousand year history of a people that spans the globe and transcends the ages. From the ancient and simple faith of a small tribe to a global religion with adherents in every nation, the path of the Jews is traced through countless expulsions and migrations, the great tragedy of the Holocaust, and the joy of founding a homeland in Israel. Putting the struggle of a persecuted people into perspective, Max Dimont asks whether the tragic sufferings of the Jews have actually been the key to their survival, as other nations and races vanished into obscurity. Here is a book for Jews and non-Jews to enjoy, evoking a proud heritage while offering a hopeful vision of the future.
This amazing journey through Tibetan Buddhism and Judaism leads Kamenetz to a renewed appreciation of his living Jewish roots.
The Library of Early Christianity is a series of eight outstanding books exploring the Jewish and Greco-Roman contexts in which the New Testament developed.
In this iconoclastic and provocative work, leading scholars Israel Finkelstein and Neil Asher Silberman draw on recent archaeological research to present a dramatically revised portrait of ancient Israel and its neighbors. They argue that crucial evidence (or a telling lack of evidence) at digs in Israel, Egypt, Jordan, and Lebanon suggests that many of the most famous stories in the Bible—the wanderings of the patriarchs, the Exodus from Egypt, Joshua’s conquest of Canaan, and David and Solomon’s vast empire—reflect the world of the later authors rather than actual historical facts.
Challenging the fundamentalist readings of the scriptures and marshaling the latest archaeological evidence to support its new vision of ancient Israel, The Bible Unearthed offers a fascinating and controversial perspective on when and why the Bible was written and why it possesses such great spiritual and emotional power today.
During her years in Paris, Arendt’s principal concern was with the transformation of antisemitism from a social prejudice to a political policy, which would culminate in the Nazi “final solution” to the Jewish question–the physical destruction of European Jewry. After France fell at the beginning of World War II, Arendt escaped from an internment camp in Gurs and made her way to the United States. Almost immediately upon her arrival in New York she wrote one article after another calling for a Jewish army to fight the Nazis, and for a new approach to Jewish political thinking. After the war, her attention was focused on the creation of a Jewish homeland in a binational (Arab-Jewish) state of Israel.
Although Arendt’s thoughts eventually turned more to the meaning of human freedom and its inseparability from political life, her original conception of political freedom cannot be fully grasped apart from her experience as a Jew. In 1961 she attended Adolf Eichmann’s trial in Jerusalem. Her report on that trial, Eichmann in Jerusalem, provoked an immense controversy, which culminated in her virtual excommunication from the worldwide Jewish community. Today that controversy is the subject of serious re-evaluation, especially among younger people in America, Europe, and Israel.
The publication of The Jewish Writings–much of which has never appeared before–traces Arendt’s life and thought as a Jew. It will put an end to any doubts about the centrality, from beginning to end, of Arendt’s Jewish experience.
From the Hardcover edition.
In alternating first-person narratives, Faiga (Fay) and Luzer (Leo) take readers into their very different but inextricably linked experiences in Nazi-occupied Poland. Faiga, the once-dignified young lady from a good home with servants and a seat by the eastern wall of the synagogue, spends two years wandering the perilous countryside, hoping to be taken for a peasant. Mere miles away, knowing nothing of his sister’s fate, Luzer, the leather wholesaler’s only son, lies silent all day in the stifling dark corner of a barn, where the smell of the cows’ warm hides are a piquant reminder of his lost world. Hidden deftly summons that world, as the familiar comforts and squabbles of life in a well-to-do, religious Jewish family are slowly overwhelmed by the grim news coming out of Germany. We follow Faiga and Luzer through the early forebodings and deprivations of the war, into hiding among righteous Poles and erstwhile neighbors-turned-betrayers, and finally, at war’s end, back once more into the world—but not necessarily into safety. Told in a confident, clear, and unsentimental prose, this is a story of heroism and tragedy writ large and small, of two young people coming of age in a world in chaos and then trying to return to "normal" after experiences as unimaginable as they are unforgettable.
—from the Foreword by Arthur Hertzberg, 1995
Drawing on a remarkably rich archive that includes photographs, objects, official documents, and personal papers, the editors of Jews in Nazi Berlin have assembled a multifaceted picture of Jewish daily life in the Nazi capital during the height of the regime’s power. The book’s essays and images are divided into thematic sections, each representing a different aspect of the experience of Jews in Berlin, covering such topics as emigration, the yellow star, Zionism, deportation, betrayal, survival, and more. To supplement—and, importantly, to humanize—the comprehensive documentary evidence, the editors draw on an extensive series of interviews with survivors of the Nazi persecution, who present gripping first-person accounts of the innovation, subterfuge, resilience, and luck required to negotiate the increasing brutality of the regime.
A stunning reconstruction of a storied community as it faced destruction, Jews in Nazi Berlin renders that loss with a startling immediacy that will make it an essential part of our continuing attempts to understand World War II and the Holocaust.
The foundation of Hebrew and Jewish religion, thought, law, and society is the Torah-the parchment scroll containing the text of the Five Books of Moses that is located in every synagogue. This accessible guide explains the Torah in clear language, even to those who were not raised in the Jewish religious tradition. Christians who want to know more about the Jewish roots of Christianity need to understand the Torah, as do followers of Islamic tradition and those interested in the roots of Abrahamic faiths. The Torah For Dummies explains the history of the Torah, its structure and major principles, and how the Torah affects the daily lives of people who follow the Jewish way of life.
To account for the complexities of the foundational event through which monotheism was established, "Moses the Egyptian" goes back to the short-lived monotheistic revolution of the Egyptian king Akhenaten (1360-1340 B.C.E.). Assmann traces the monotheism of Moses to this source, then shows how his followers denied the Egyptians any part in the origin of their beliefs and condemned them as polytheistic idolaters. Thus began the cycle in which every "counter-religion," by establishing itself as truth, denounced all others as false. Assmann reconstructs this cycle as a pattern of historical abuse, and tracks its permutations from ancient sources, including the Bible, through Renaissance debates over the basis of religion to Sigmund Freud's "Moses and Monotheism." One of the great Egyptologists of our time, and an exceptional scholar of history and literature, Assmann is uniquely equipped for this undertaking--an exemplary case study of the vicissitudes of historical memory that is also a compelling lesson in the fluidity of cultural identity and beliefs.
Given their staggering importance, you would think that all societies, and certainly our educational and religious institutions, would be intent on studying them closely. Sadly, this is not the case. Our schools ignore them and our churches and synagogues take them for granted. But here's a simple test: Who among us can even name all of the Ten Commandments? And even among those who can name them, how many can explain them in a way that makes sense to the modern eye and ear?
If you are a person of faith, this book will strengthen it; if you are agnostic it will force you to rethink your doubts; if you're atheist, it will test your convictions. For people who have thought little about the Ten Commandments, as well as for those who have a sophisticated understanding of them, it will be a revelation.
That's a lot to ask of a little book, but the only thing that's little here is the length. The ideas are very big.
The failure among Ashkenazic Jews to recognize Sephardim and Mizrahim as fellow Jews continues today. More often than not, these Jewish communities are simply absent from portrayals of American Jewry. Drawing on primary sources such as the Ladino (Judeo-Spanish) press, archival documents, and oral histories, Sephardic Jews in America offers the first book-length academic treatment of their history in the United States, from 1654 to the present, focusing on the age of mass immigration.
In The Harlot by the Side of the Road, Kirsch recounts these suppressed and mistranslated tales in the grand storytelling tradition. Here is the tale of Dinah, the young Israelite daughter raped by a princely suitor. The price for her hand in marriage? The circumcision of every man in his kingdom. Here, too, is the story of Lot's daughters, who, when faced with the possibility that they are the last survivors on earth, must copulate with their drunken father to continue their race. And the story of Tamar, the harlot by the side of the road, who must disguise herself as a prostitute and seduce her father-in-law in order to bear the child who has been promised her.
Kirsch places each story within the political and social context of its time, and delves into the latest biblical scholarship to explain why each story was originally censored. He also brings to light when and where each story was first written down, and how it found its way into the Bible. And he shows how these stories have something important to say to contemporary readers who might never pick up a Bible.
Kirsch reveals that the Bible's real power lies in its unflinching lessons in human nature. And he illuminates the surprising modernity of the Bible's characters: these were, like us, people delicately balanced between their destructive and generous natures. Certain to excite controversy and ignite intellectual debate, The Harlot by the Side of the Road will undoubtedly be one of the year's most talked-about books.
From the Hardcover edition.
In 1920, in small-town America, the ubiquitous dry goods store--suits and coats, shoes and hats, work clothes and school clothes, yard goods and notions--was usually owned by Jews and often referred to as "the Jew store." That's how Stella Suberman's father's store, Bronson's Low-Priced Store, in Concordia, Tennessee, was known locally. The Bronsons were the first Jews to ever live in that tiny town (1920 population: 5,318) of one main street, one bank, one drugstore, one picture show, one feed and seed, one hardware, one barber shop, one beauty parlor, one blacksmith, and many Christian churches. Aaron Bronson moved his family all the way from New York City to that remote corner of northwest Tennessee to prove himself a born salesman--and much more. Told by Aaron's youngest child, The Jew Store is that rare thing--an intimate family story that sheds new light on a piece of American history. Here is One Man's Family with a twist--a Jew, born into poverty in prerevolutionary Russia and orphaned from birth, finds his way to America, finds a trade, finds a wife, and sets out to find his fortune in a place where Jews are unwelcome. With a novelist's sense of scene, suspense, and above all, characterization, Stella Suberman turns the clock back to a time when rural America was more peaceful but no less prejudiced, when educated liberals were suspect, and when the Klan was threatening to outsiders. In that setting, she brings to life her remarkable father, a man whose own brand of success proves that intelligence, empathy, liberality, and decency can build a home anywhere. The Jew Store is a heartwarming--even inspiring--story.
In this fascinating book noted Syro-Palestinian archaeologist William G. Dever attacks the minimalist position head-on, showing how modern archaeology brilliantly illuminates both life in ancient Palestine and the sacred scriptures as we have them today. Assembling a wealth of archaeological evidence, Dever builds the clearest, most complete picture yet of the real Israel that existed during the Iron Age of ancient Palestine (1200 600 B.C.).
Dever's exceptional reconstruction of this key period points up the minimalists' abuse of archaeology and reveals the weakness of their revisionist histories. Dever shows that ancient Israel, far from being an "invention," is a reality to be discovered. Equally important, his recovery of a reliable core history of ancient Israel provides a firm foundation from which to appreciate the aesthetic value and lofty moral aspirations of the Hebrew Bible.
Drawing on the biblical text and a treasury of both scholarship and storytelling, Kirsch examines all that is known and all that has been imagined of Moses. In these vivid pages, we see the marvels and mysteries of Moses's life in a new light--his rescue in infancy and adoption by an Egyptian princess; his reluctant assumption of the role of liberator; his struggles to wrest his people from the pharaoh's dominion; his desperate vigil on Mount Sinai. Here too is the darker, more ominous Moses--the sorcerer, the husband of a pagan woman, the military commander who cold-bloodedly ordered the slaying of innocent people; the beloved of God whom God sought twice to murder.
Jonathan Kirsch brings both prodigious knowledge and a keen imagination to one of the most compelling stories of the Bible, and the results are fascinating. A figure of mystery, passion, and contradiction, Moses emerges from this book very much a hero for our time.
From the Hardcover edition.
When Joshua Safran was four years old, his mother--determined to protect him from the threats of nuclear war and Ronald Reagan--took to the open road with her young son, leaving the San Francisco countercultural scene behind. Together they embarked on a journey to find a utopia they could call home. InFree Spirit, Safran tells the harrowing, yet wryly funny story of his childhood chasing this perfect life off the grid--and how they survived the imperfect one they found instead.
Encountering a cast of strange and humorous characters along the way, Joshua spends his early years living in a series of makeshift homes, including shacks, teepees, buses, and a lean-to on a stump. His colorful youth darkens, however, when his mother marries an alcoholic and abusive guerrilla/poet.
Throughout it all, Joshua yearns for a "normal" life, but when he finally reenters society through school, he finds "America" a difficult and confusing place. Years spent living in the wilderness and discussing Marxism have not prepared him for the Darwinian world of teenagers, and he finds himself bullied and beaten by classmates who don't share his mother's belief about reveling in one's differences.
Eventually, Joshua finds the strength to fight back against his tormentors, both in school and at home, and helps his mother find peace. But Free Spirit is more than just a coming-of-age story. It is also a journey of the spirit, as he reconnects with his Jewish roots; a tale of overcoming adversity; and a captivating read about a childhood unlike any other.
In Carroll’s provocative reading of the deep past, the Bible came into being as an act of resistance to the violence that threatened Jerusalem from the start. Centuries later, holy wars burned apocalyptic Jerusalem into the Western mind, sparking expressly religious conflict among Jews, Christians, and Muslims. The heat stretched from Richard the Lionheart to Field Marshal Edmund Allenby, whose World War I conquest of the city relit the fuse for a war that still rages.
Carroll’s brilliant leap is to show how, as Christopher Columbus was dispatched from the Crusades-obsessed Knights Templar’s last outpost in Iberia, the New World too was powerfully shaped by the millennial obsessions of the City on a Hill — from Governor Winthrop to Abraham Lincoln to Woodrow Wilson to Ronald Reagan. Heavenly Jerusalem defines the American imagination — and always, the earthly city smolders. Jerusalem fever, inextricably tied to Christian fervor, is the deadly — unnamed — third party to the Israeli-Palestinian wars. Understanding Jerusalem fever is the key that unlocks world history, and the diagnosis that gives us our best chance to reimagine peace.