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Reading the Lines: A Fresh Look at the Hebrew Bible [Hardcover]

By Pamela Tamarkin Reis (Author)
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Item Specifications...

Pages   227
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 9.38" Width: 6.3" Height: 0.83"
Weight:   1.25 lbs.
Binding  Hardcover
Release Date   Nov 1, 2002
Publisher   Hendrickson Publishers
ISBN  1565636961  
EAN  9781565636965  

Availability  0 units.

Item Description...
Defying conventional wisdom with witty iconoclasm, Reis offers a literary analysis of controversial passages and issues in the Hebrew Bible. In 11 thought-provoking essays that eschew the patchwork of authors and origins produced by source-critical approaches, she treats the texts as integrated masterworks that are neither too difficult nor remote for careful readers to explore.

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Product Categories
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Reviews - What do our customers think?
A breath of fresh air for Old Testament studies  Jun 7, 2003
Pamela Reis is not afraid to take the unconventional route when it comes to Biblical interpretation, and, by doing so, she gets closer to the heart of what the text is actually saying than many who are committed to the type of scholarship favored by the majority. Drawing on the example of the classic Japanese movie "Rashomon", she makes a strong case for single authorship of the Pentateuch, especially concerning the creation stories in Genesis. Rather than falling back on multiple authorship to explain apparent discrepancies and changes in viewpoint, Reis believes these stories are the work of a single, brilliant author who is writing the same story from two totally different points of view (God and man).

This book actually reads much like a series of articles from "Bible Review". Rather than being a comprehensive commentary on the Hebrew Bible, the book focuses on various narratives and shows how conventional wisdom has often misread them. Those who have been considered helpless victims (i.e. Tamar and the daughter of Jephthah) are shown to be not quite as innocent as they have seemed. Scriptures that have been puzzling in the past (the "bridegroom of blood" incident between Moses and Zipporah, for example) are given satisfactory explanations. The book is not perfect, in my estimation, because sometimes there are arguments from silence (i.e., the author's opinion that the witch of Endor served Saul raw meat is a bit of a stretch), and other areas where the arguments are likewise unconvincing or tedious, but those parts are in the minority. This is altogether a fascinating book by a respected, although unconventional scholar.

fascinating as a "close read" of the Hebrew Bible  Mar 12, 2003
This is a book for those who love the literary exegesis of the Hebrew Bible -- if you loved Robert Alter's Art Of Biblical Narrative (as I did), this is largely in the same spirit. Reis' guiding principle is to take the unity and intentionality of the text-as-written at face value, and accordingly to investigate different moments that don't seem to "fit." Her emphatic and persuasive answer to her investigations is that, if you know the language and think common-sensically, these moments make perfect sense. As a result, she's able to do a lot of great work, and she discovers a narrative unity within the text that exegetes past and present have often failed to see. If you know and love these stories, her insights are just terrific. The book gets five stars and earns it, although (in my opinion), the editorial reviews make too much of Reis' age and consequent spunkiness in writing a scholarly book when she has "no credentials," and Reis herself is a little too inclined to tell you about how she gained each insight she has...this aspect forms the introduction to each chapter. Ho hum. Also, she's too inclined to resist the "documentary hypothesis" because it undercuts the notion of artistic unity that informs her approach to analyzing the text. She's not convincing on this, much as she'd like to be. Does the ultimate source of a work have to be a single person for the reader to receive it as a narrative unity and to respond to it accordingly? (I don't think so.) But honestly, don't let that get in your way: this book is terrific, a triumphant validation of what passionate engagement with the literary text can produce. If you enjoy the combination of common sense, a little Hebrew, and a deep love of literature, this is great stuff. If you're looking for Biblical analysis from an explicit faith perspective, this is not for you, for her interests are not theological in any conventional sense. But if you really love the Bible and don't just need to hear what you already think, this is a great way to see a thoughtful reader at work.

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