In this lively and fresh introduction to the scriptures of ancient Israel (what Christians call the Old Testament and Jews call the Tanakh), two preeminent biblical scholars, Douglas A. Knight and Amy-Jill Levine, combine their passion and expertise to examine not just what the Bible says but what it means. Through their eyes we see anew the Bible’s literary brilliance, moral profundity, historical settings, and implications for our faiths and our future.
Passed down for generations, compiled between 500 and 100 BCE, and finalized around the time of Jesus, the various accounts in the Hebrew Bible took shape under a variety of cultures. Drawing on their extensive biblical scholarship, Knight and Levine explore this diverse history and equip us with the critical tools necessary to understand what the ancient texts originally meant. With long experience in teaching candidates for the ministry as well as undergraduate and graduate students, they also explore the possible meanings the texts hold today for churches, synagogues, and anyone interested in the Bible’s legacy.
Knight and Levine begin with the broader biblical story—its historical context, literary artistry, and geographical setting. They then turn to the major biblical themes with which modern readers continue to wrestle: law and justice, human evil and God’s response, belief and practice, chaos and creation, war and peace, gender and sexuality, politics and economics, practical wisdom and apocalyptic vision. For each topic, they provide both general overviews and specific analyses of select biblical passages, explaining how and why their approaches reveal new insights and offering various strategies for informed interpretation.
Throughout, Knight and Levine inspire us to ask new questions and develop a deeper understanding of one of the greatest collections of literature known to humankind—as illuminating today as it was two thousand years ago.
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Douglas A. Knight is Drucilla Moore Buffington Professor of Hebrew Bible and professor of Jewish Studies at Vanderbilt University. Knight is the author of Law, Power, and Justice in Ancient Israel and Rediscovering the Traditions of Israel.
Amy-Jill Levine is University Professor of New Testament and Jewish Studies at Vanderbilt University and affiliate faculty at the Centre for the Study of Jewish-Christian Relations in Cambridge, UK. Levine is the author of The Misunderstood Jew and served as co-editor of The Jewish Annotated New Testament.
Amy-Jill Levine is University Professor of New Testament and Jewish Studies, E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Professor of New Testament Studies, and Professor of Jewish Studies at Vanderbilt Divinity School and College of Arts and Science in Nashville, Tennessee; Affiliated Professor at the Centre for the Study of Jewish-Christian Relations at Cambridge; and a self-described "Yankee Jewish feminist who teaches in a predominantly Christian divinity school in the buckle of the Bible Belt." She is the author of The Misunderstood Jew, The Meaning of the Bible (coauthored with Douglas Knight), and the editor of The Jewish Annotated New Testament.Review:
“Amy-Jill Levine and Douglas A. Knight have combined to write a book on the Bible that is as academically brilliant as it is marvelously entertaining. By placing our scriptures into their original Jewish context they have opened up startling and profound new insights. This is a terrific book.” (John Shelby Spong, author of Re-Claiming the Bible for a Non-Religious World)
“More than random facts about the Hebrew Bible . . . more than a historical overview . . . [t]hey are aiming for true understanding of the life, culture, and practices of the ancient Israelites.” (Booklist)
“A winsome, accessible introduction to the theological thought of the Hebrew Bible. This sort of irenic, thoughtful linkage of criticism and interpretation within a confessing tradition is exactly what we most need in Scripture reading.” (Walter Brueggemann, Professor Emeritus, Columbia Theological Seminary)
“From its superb introduction to its perfectly worded conclusion, this book does it all. Whether your interest in the Bible is historical or literary, specific texts or broad themes, this book has it—and conveys its relevance for today. ” (Richard Elliott Friedman, author of Who Wrote the Bible? and The Bible Now)
“Provides new knowledge on the Bible’s rich diversity of teaching on sexuality, familial and ethnic discord, political corruption, religious infidelity, economic exploitation as well as the nature of God, faith, love, and social justice. It is both enlightening and inspiring.” (Peter J. Paris, the Elmer G. Homrighausen Professor of Christian Social Ethics, Emeritus, Princeton Theological Seminary)
“A book we have needed for years - learned and accessible, clearly organized by the topics readers care about, and fully engaged with current discussions of deep and broad significance.” (William Brosend, Executive Director, the Episcopal Preaching Foundation)
“If anyone thinks the fruit of biblical scholarship is esoteric and heavy reading, direct that person to this book. In it, Knight and Levine demonstrate both their scholarly proficiency and their expertise as seasoned educators. This book should appeal to a broad audience.” (Dianne Bergant, CSA, Catholic Theological Union)
“Knight and Levine have done a marvelous job of taking very sophisticated material and presenting it in an illuminating and thoroughly engaging way that bespeaks of excellent scholarship by two distinguished teachers.” (Carol J. Dempsey, OP, Ph.D, Professor of Theology, University of Portland, and author of Reading the Bible, Transforming Conflict)
“A highly accessible . . . survey that is in tune with current scholarship.” (Library Journal)
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