How to Read the Bible

Master Bible student and instructor Marc Brettler argues that today’s modern readers can merely comprehend the traditional Hebrew Scripture through understanding extra concerning the tradition that produced it. And so Brettler unpacks the literary conventions, ideological assumptions, and ancient stipulations that tell the biblical textual content and demonstrates how smooth serious scholarship and archaeological discoveries make clear this interesting and intricate literature.

Brettler surveys consultant biblical texts from assorted genres to demonstrate how smooth students have taught us to “read” those texts. utilizing the “historical-critical process” lengthy renowned in academia, he publications us in interpreting the Bible because it was once learn within the biblical interval, self sustaining of later non secular norms and interpretive traditions. realizing the Bible this fashion we could us take pleasure in it as an engaging textual content that speaks in a number of voices on profound issues.

This booklet is the 1st “Jewishly delicate” advent to the historical-critical procedure. not like different introductory texts, the Bible that this ebook speaks approximately is the Jewish one—with the three-part TANAKH association, the series of books present in smooth revealed Hebrew versions, and the bankruptcy and verse enumerations utilized in most recent Jewish models of the Bible. In an afterword, the writer discusses how the historical-critical strategy can assist modern Jews relate to the Bible as a non secular textual content in a extra significant way.


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I n d e e d , we okay n o w that during the p e r i o d of Chronicles, m o s t most likely the f o u r t h c e n t u r y B. C. E. , J e w s hugely valued genealogies. All t w e n t y - o n e biblical o c c u r r e n c e s of the v e r b y-ch-s ( ‫ י ח ש‬, "to be registered b y genealogy") a p p e a r both in C h r o n i c l e s or within the c o n t e m p o r a n e o u s b o o okay of E z r a - N e h e m i a h . 2 Ezra 2:62 m e n t i o n s yes clergymen w h o "searched for his or her genealogical documents, b u t they c o u l d n o t b e f o u n d , in order that they have been disqualified for the p r i e s t h o o d . " P r i e s t h o o d in historic Israel at that p o i n t in time w a s c o n s i d e r e d to be hereditary. Remarkably, clergymen ok e p t a n d u p d a t e d s u c h files within the Babylonian exile a n d b e y o n d . Genealogies performed a l e a d i n g function in legitimating a variety of g r o u p s or contributors, as m a y be noticeable f r o m Chronicles. F o r e x a m p l e , we observed above (see "The J o s e p h tale" in c h a p t e r 7) that the n a r r a t o r of Genesis displaces Jacob's first 3 sons, R e u b e n , S i m e o n , a n d Levi, w i t h t w o y o u n g e r sons, J u d a h (ancestor of David) a n d J o s e p h (ancestor of the 1st line of N o r t h e r n kings). by the point the C h r o n i c l e r (the a u t h o r of C h r o n i c l e s three ) w a s writing, this w a s i m p o r t a n t heritage, particularly because the ten n o r t h e r n tribes have been virtually c o m p l e t e l y "lost," a n d it w a s principally J u d e a n s , finally known as Jews, w h o r e t u r n e d f r o m the Babylonian exile. four T h u s , the family tree of J u d a h p r e c e d e s that of any of the o t h e r c h i l d r e n of J a c o b (1 C h r o n . 2 : three - four : 2 five ) , a n d it's the longest of s u c h genealogies. As n o t e d earlier, the next advent to the family tree of firstborn Reuben makes it fairly transparent w h y Reuben follows J u d a h : (1 Chron. 5:1) The sons of Reuben the first-born of Israel. (He was once the first-born; b u t w h e n he defiled his father's mattress, his birthright was once given to the sons of J o s e p h son of Israel, so he's not reckoned as first-born within the family tree; (2) t h o u g h J u d a h grew to become extra robust than his brothers and a pacesetter got here from him, but the birthright belonged to Joseph. ) it is a retelling in miniature of the J o s e p h tale in Genesis. A Made-up family tree The Chronicler additionally creates genealogies to unravel difficulties in his assets. O n e challenge provided through Samuel and Kings is the declare that the most J u d e a n priest on the time of David used to be Zadok, but Z a d o okay s family tree is rarely given. a few students posit—for the textual content n o w h e r e states this—that initially, Zadok officiâted at a Canaanite shrine in Jerusalem; he used to be "inherited" by way of David w h o , as Israel's king, c o n q u e r e d that urban. five For the Chronicler, even if, the concept a excessive priest h a d n o valid family tree used to be very unlikely. Given the significance of getting right monks in his interval, he h a d to "find" a formal family tree for Zadok, connecting him to Aaron, the 1st priest and brother of Moses.

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