By James L. Kugel
James Kugel's The Bible because it was once (1997) has been welcomed with common compliment. the following now could be the entire scholarly version of this splendidly wealthy and illuminating paintings, increasing the author's findings into an incomparable reference paintings. concentrating on dozen middle tales within the Pentateuch--from the construction and Tree of information during the Exodus from Egypt and trip to the Promised Land--James Kugel indicates us how the earliest interpreters of the scriptures considerably reworked the Bible and made it into the publication that has come right down to us this day. Kugel explains how and why the writers of this formative age of interpretation--roughly two hundred B.C.E. to one hundred fifty C.E.--assumed one of these major function. Mining their writings--including the lifeless Sea Scrolls, works of Philo and Josephus and letters of the Apostle Paul, and writings of the Apostolic Fathers and the rabbinic Sages--he rates for us the seminal passages that discover this significant interpretive strategy. For this full-scale reference paintings Kugel has extra a considerable treasury of assets and passages for every of the 24 Bible tales. it is going to function a different advisor and sourcebook for biblical interpretation.
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Extra resources for Traditions of the Bible: A Guide to the Bible As It Was at the Start of the Common Era
For centuries before the Babylonian exile, prophets had acted as divine spokesmen in Israel. They were seen, quite literally, as messengers of God, and the messages they brought-words of rebuke and announcements of divine judgment and punishment, as well as messages of hope and divine encouragement, or simply divine directives and commandments-compelled the attention of kings and commoners alike. Prophets, in short, were an intermediary link in communications between God and humanity. But then, in the period following the return from exile, prophecy began to fall into disrepute.
Indeed, it is certainly significant, in the light of wisdom literature's polarized division of humanity into the righteous and the wicked, the wise and the foolish, that a similar polarization takes place in ancient exegesis: biblical heroes are altogether good, with any fault air-brushed away, whereas figures like Esau or Balaam are altogether demonized-as if their neither-good-nor-evil status in the Bible itself was somehow intolerable. (The most persuasive instances of such polarization occur with figures like Lot or Enosh, simultaneously demonized by one group of interpreters while pronounced altogether righteous by another.
In short, it is not that teachers of wisdom began merely to include Scripture among their subjects; rather, the whole nature of their activity was changing. Where wisdom had previously consisted of contemplating the natural world and the social order and deducing from them the general plan by which God conducts the world, it was now more and more Scripture that was consulted to understand God's ways. As the examples from the Wisdom of Solomon show, consulting Scripture did not consist merely of finding the appropriate passage and repeating it, but of looking deeply into its words, for God's teachings were often not obvious.