How To Read The Bible | Notes & Review

Posted on May 3, 2010

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James Kugel. How To Read The Bible: A Guide to Scripture, Then and Now. Free Press, 2007. (819 pages)

This afternoon, my wife and I attended “Bible By The Bay” by Lehrhaus Judaica held at the local JCC.

For the seminar entitled A Biblical History of the Senses, I’d like to thank Steve Weitzman for his intriguing study on the senses through the book of Deuteronomy. His discussion included contrasts and comparisons with Greek thought as well as some Christian developments. Overall, his thesis is that Deuteronomy offers a much more ancient and intricately complex philosophy of the senses than what is traditionally accepted merely through Plato’s musings. Quickly, Deuteronomy begins with “seeing,” (Deut. 1-4, Seeing without Believing) moves to “hearing,” (Deut. 4-6, Overhearing) and eventually to “tasting.” (Deut. 6-12, Eating Disorders). Simply put, seeing is not all there is to understanding. Hearing is dangerous (5:26). And eating can make you forget. This, in many ways, helps to explain the emergence of the tangible traditions of Jewish life. They’re not mere religious cultic practices, but rather deeply connected human behaviors that are reminiscent of a true intimacy with God, a striving for being as close as possible to Adonai in as much of the fullness as is humanly possible.

For the lectures from Kugel, they were all essentially from his book, and thus I decided to join the review of the conference, with the Notes & Review of the book.

NOTE: While getting my book signed, I asked him about this book being an abbreviated version of Traditions of the Bible. He affirmed this truth with the note that Harvard would only publish the large one if they could publish this shorter version (for “publishing” reasons). He, and several others, were irked by this as the full version, (Traditions) is quite expensive. Thus, How To Read The Bible is only about 50% of the original work. Darn publishers. Now I’m irked too.

NOTES & REVIEW (this will take a while, so bear with me as I update this post over the next several…days/months?)

1. The Rise of Modern Biblical Scholarship

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2. The Creation of the World–and of Adam and Eve

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3. Cain and Abel

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4. The Great Flood

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5. The Tower of Babel

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6.The Call of Abraham

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7. Two Models of God and the “God of Old”

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8. The Trials of Abraham

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9. Jacob and Esau

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10. Jacob and the Angel

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11. Dinah

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12. Joseph and His Brothers

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13. Moses in Egypt

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14. The Exodus

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15. A Covenant with God

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16. The Ten Commandments

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17. A Religion of Laws

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18. Worship on the Road

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19. P and D

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20. On the Way to Canaan

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21. Moses’ Last Words

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22. Joshua and the Conquest of Canaan

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23. Judges and Chiefs

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24. The Other Gods of Canaan

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25. Samuel and Saul

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26. The Psalms of David

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27. David the King

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28. Solomon’s Wisdom

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29. North and South

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30. The Book of Isaiah(s)

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31. Jeremiah

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32. Ezekial

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33. Twelve Minor Prophets

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34. Job and Postexilic Wisdom

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35. Daniel the Interpreter

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36. After Such Knowledge

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