How to Read the Bible

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Jewish Publication Society, Jan 1, 2010 - Religion - 400 pages
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.

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How to read the Bible

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Does one need a book to learn how to read a sacred text? Yes, argues Jewish scholar Brettler (The Jewish Study Bible ), who claims that there is more to reading the Hebrew Bible than meets the eye ... Read full review


Reading Jeremiah
Reading Ezekiel
The Exile and Beyond
Zechariah Apocalyptic Literature and Daniel
Reading Psalms
Reading Proverbs and Ecclesiastes
Reading Job
Reading Song of Songs

The Cult in Ancient Israel
Reading Joshua
Royal Ideology in Samuel and Judges
Reading Kings
Reading Chronicles
15 Introduction to Prophecy
Reading Amos
Reading First Isaiah
Reading Ruth vs Esther
27 The Creation of the Bible
Reading the Bible as a Committed Jew
Sources Cited
Index of Subjects
Index of Biblical Passages and Other References

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Popular passages

Page 80 - And when he hath made an end of reconciling the holy place, and the tabernacle of the congregation, and the altar, he shall bring the live goat : and Aaron shall lay both his hands upon the head of the live goat, and confess over him all the iniquities of the children of Israel, and all their transgressions in all their sins, putting them upon the head of the goat, and shall send him away by the hand of a fit man into the wilderness...
Page 101 - Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.
Page 65 - Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor, and do all your work; but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God; in it you shall not do any work...
Page 7 - Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers, in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they continued not in my covenant, and I regarded them not, saith the Lord.
Page 180 - Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of judah.
Page 133 - And when he was in affliction, he besought the Lord his God, and humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers...
Page xiv - SBL Society of Biblical Literature SBLDS Society of Biblical Literature Dissertation Series SBLMS Society of Biblical Literature Monograph Series...
Page 54 - Pharaoh called Abram, and said, 'What is this you have done to me? Why did you not tell me that she was your wife? • Why did you say, "She is my sister," so that I took her for my wife?
Page 271 - Entreat me not to leave you or to return from following you; for where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge; your people shall be my people, and your God my God; " where you die I will die, and there will I be buried.

About the author (2010)

Marc Zvi Brettler received his MA and PhD in Near Eastern and Judaic Studies from Brandeis University, where he is Dora Golding Professor of Biblical Literature and Chair of the department from which he received his degrees. He is the author of How to Read the Bible (JPS) and co-editor of The Jewish Study Bible (Oxford University Press).

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