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Great Poems Of The Bible [Paperback]

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Item Specifications...

Pages   350
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 1" Width: 5.5" Height: 8.5"
Weight:   0.68 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Oct 1, 2008
Publisher   Simon & Schuster
ISBN  1416589023  
EAN  9781416589020  

Availability  0 units.

Item Description...
From the Psalms to the Prophets, from job to Ecclesiastes, much of the Bible is written in poetry. The poems of the Bible include some of its best known and most beloved passages: "The Lord is my shepherd," "Let justice roll down like waters," "By the rivers of Babylon," "Remember your Creator," "Arise, shine, for thy light is come!" These poems live in the hearts of those who are familiar with the Bible and offer rich rewards to anyone who is approaching the world's greatest book for the first time. In The Great Poems of the Bible, Harvard scholar James Kugel presents original translations of the most beautiful and important poems of the Scripture. Taken together, these poems represent the very essence of the Hebrew Bible. Reading them one after another is like taking a guided tour through Scripture, meeting firsthand some of its most important teachings and opening the way to an understanding of the Bible as a whole. Each poem is accompanied by an eloquent and accessible explanation of the poem's language, and a reflection on its meaning. These learned, compact essays introduce readers to the broader spiritual world of ancient Israel. What did people in biblical times believe about God? Where is a person's soul located and what does it do? Is there an afterlife? How does one come to "know" God? Why wasn't Eve meant to be Adam's "helpmate" (Kugel shows how this was just a translator's slip-up), and what does the Bible have to say about the role of women? Kugel's sparkling translations of the poems, together with the fascinating insights that accompany them, distill the very best that the Bible and modern scholarship have to offer. Kugel brings new life to some of history's greatest poems, and offers a new look at a Bible we thought we already knew. Here, in one volume, is a "Bible's bible" that belongs in every home. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Publishers Description
In The Great Poems of the Bible, James Kugel, acclaimed Harvard scholar and former poetry editor of Harpers Magazine, selects eighteen essential poems from the Hebrew Bible and offers his own original and articulate translations of these core pieces of religious literature. His eloquent renditions are paired with deeply informed discussions about the conditions surrounding each poem, including its history and whatÊthe best religious scholarship and literary criticism tell us about how the poem should be understood. Kugel explains traditions, clarifies often-misunderstood language, and offers readers wonderfully insightful explanations that are indispensable to understanding the poems and, ultimately, the fundamental teachings of the Old Testament.

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More About James L. Kugel

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James Kugel is the Starr Professor of Hebrew Literature at Harvard University and Professor of Bible at Bar Ilan University, Israel. He is the author of Poetry and Prophecy, Early Biblical Interpretation and The Idea of Biblical Poetry, the last available from Johns Hopkins. His The Bible as It Was, an introduction to the Torah's ancient interpreters, was published in 1997.

James L. Kugel currently resides in the state of Massachusetts. James L. Kugel has an academic affiliation as follows - Bar-Ilan University, Ramat-Gan, Israel.

James L. Kugel has published or released items in the following series...
  1. Library of Early Christianity

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Product Categories
1Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > Poetry > General   [19247  similar products]
2Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > Poetry > Inspirational & Religious   [1920  similar products]
3Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Reference > Commentaries > Old Testament   [2074  similar products]

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Reviews - What do our customers think?
Solid theological review of the literature- could have discussd the wordcraft more  Dec 28, 2009
Non-fiction- a series of essays.

While this book dwells on forms of Biblical poetry, it's main focus is on taking the more famous poetic sections of the Old Testament and using them to examine the beliefs, ideals and lives of the people of ancient Israel. It definitely introduced me to what scholars consider are the best poems of the Old Testament. However it's not so much about poetry itself but about interpreting religion through poetry. Interesting, but not what I expected.

All in all, Great Poems of the Bible is a smart, thoughtful and well-written tome. Although, at times, it gets a little dry and academic. To be fair, I think it was written with academic readers in mind.

I got this book because I wanted to learn more about the writing of the Old Testament, and it definitely helped in that department. I also learned a lot about life and philosophy and theology of the times in which the Old Testament was written.

Some interesting ideas that I ran across:

People who lived in ancient times felt much closer to God than we do today. (Their God was not in some far off heaven, removed and looking down)

Some ancient theologians believed that our souls are on loan to us from God- and when we die he gets them back.

That ancient Hebrew and Near-Eastern scholars regarded wisdom not as a personal quality, but as a mysterious, static pattern or puzzle either created by or discovered by God. So- in their world view- getting wisdom didn't make you any smarter than anyone else, it just meant that you had somehow discovered or gained a glimpse of the master pattern/ puzzle. Thus "getting wisdom" was less like learning something and more like going somewhere. An easier way to understand the distinction between our modern view of wisdom and their ancient one is that, in their estimation, wisdom would still be around whether or not there was anyone around to learn about it.

That rather than use long discourses like their Greek counterparts, ancient Hebrew and Near Eastern thinkers preferred their knowledge in tiny two-part sayings and poems called "meshalim". Meshalim sounds (to me) like a kind of like modular knowledge: highly portable, easy to memorize and to disseminate. It's like knowledge with a different, heartier DNA structure than what we're used to. Although (again) simply knowing these proverbs didn't make you wise, but it might give you a chance to glimpse wisdom.

Learned that big chunks of the original Book of Lamentations were written in an acrostic style. Which is to say the first line begins with the old Hebrew letter equivalent of the letter A. The next line begins with the Hebrew letter B and so on.

Overall, a good read, although a little clunky and dry in places, and I thought it might have been helpful for Kugel (the author) to maybe have consulted with a poet so there could be more written about the lanuage and play of the wordcraft itself.
a generally well done set of little essays...  Jul 17, 2005
though often they seemed to me to display a keen grasp of the obvious. I liked the first couple of essays the best: these focused on the theological "big picture" emphasizing that ancient Jews were more aware than many moderns of God's bigness and humans' own smallness, and describing the soul as God's "double agent" within us (i.e. the part of us most connected to the Divine).
Questionable Translation  Feb 19, 2005
The best part of the book is the discussion of the problems in
Bible translation and the need to be sensitive to Biblical idiom.
As to the Bible translation itself, I focus most significantly on the problems in the Song of Solomon. Here, the author concedes that he flagrantly deviates from the text on the ground that no one (e.g. himself) understands the poet's motives in choice of words. This is absurd Bible translation. Indeed
in just several verses of the poem, I discovered no less than
twenty serious errors.
Intelligent and instructive introduction to Biblical poetry  Dec 27, 2004
James Kugel is one of the world's great experts on Biblical literature. In this work he translates a selection of Biblical poetry with the hope of providing a real introduction and feeling of the subject. He makes the point that there are Biblical texts which it is difficult to really classify either as poetry or prose but others which have clearly the special vitality and intensity of poetry. He does not translate all of Tehillim( Psalms) but chooses those which have special meaning for him, 104, 42, 29, 51,23, 137,119. He also translates what he calls Biblical ' one- line poetry' primarily from Ecclesiastes and Proverbs.He has a section from the Song of Songs, from Micah, Isaiah, Ecclesiastes, Jeremiah,Amos, Job, Judges, Samuel I. In an illuminating introduction he talks about the various styles of Biblical poetry from the pastoral direct country style of Amos to the magnificent overwhelming sophistication of Isaiah. He also speaks insightfully about the difficulties of translation and makes the interesting point that peoples of another time 'see and feel things through the language' that we do not. His love of the poetry and knowledge of it is apparent.
A wonderful book.
Some examples from the section on one- line poetry.

" Like the sound of thorns under a pot, so is the laughter of fools." Ecclesiastes

"If a tree falls to the sourth or to the north, wherever it falls, there it is. " Ecclesiastes

" A good man's name is a blessing, but a wicked man's name rots. Proverbs.

" One who grabs a dog by the ears, a passerby who meddles in a dispute not hi own."

" The north wind gives birth to the rain , and secret speech to an angry face." Proverbs

"A name is better than scented oil, and the day of death than the day of one's birth . Ecclesiastes.
Exposing the beauty of Biblical Poetry  May 27, 2003
This book (interestingly enough written as a textbook for the second half of Professor Kugel's Introduction to the Bible Course) is a beautiful book examining the wonders of Biblical Poetry. As Kugel notes, the poems have none of the classic poetic elements in English of meter or rhyme, but do have this wonderful ____A____|____B____|| element to them. He carefully walks the reader through how the bridge between A and B is important, and develops in a scholarly but totally readable way how the poem generates meaning. Anyone interseted in understanding further how the Bible works, and how it applies to our life should read this book.

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