Was The Gospel of Matthew Originally Written In Hebrew?

New evidence indicates that the Gospel of Matthew was an original Hebrew composition. Indeed, it is now possible to recover much of this original Hebrew composition from an extant manuscript. But before explaining how this can be done, let me set the stage with a little background. Until now, the four canonical Gospels—Matthew, Mark, […]


The Jacob cycle, heart of the patriarchal narratives, has moved, intrigued and inspired generations throughout the millennia. The characters are as real as we ourselves—and as elusive. Seen through different prisms, they continually reveal new facets. In this issue we examine these stories and the people in them from different perspectives: Jacob, as the […]

The Psalms
Beauty Heightened Through Poetic Structure By Robert Alter

Of all the books of the Bible in which poetry plays a role, Psalms is the one set of texts whose poetic status has been most strongly felt throughout the generations—regardless of the vagaries of translation, typographical arrangement of verses or notions about biblical literary form. This unwavering perception that the psalms are formal […]

From Moses to Jesus: Parallel Themes

In an article in the February 1985 issue of Bible Review (“Different Ways of Looking at the Birth of Jesus,” BR 01:01), Kenneth Gros Louis discusses what he calls “narrative strategies in New Testament infancy narratives.” It seems to me that Gros Louis analyzes only minor tactics while completely ignoring the dominant strategy of […]

Hagar’s Expulsion—A Tale Twice-Told in Genesis
How artists picture the Bible By Zefira Gitay

The artist is a biblical commentator just as surely as the literary critic who studies the Bible’s internal devices, as the form critic who looks at the origins of literary genres, or as the source critic who tries to disentangle components that may have been woven together to create the text we know. Both […]

Deception for Deception
Who breaks the cycle? By Richard Elliott Friedman

The biblical story of Jacob is artistically an exquisite creation, psychologically an intriguing portrait, and religiously an interpretive treasurehouse—but it has always been a problem. Even Sunday school children ask why the hero Jacob, the great patriarch, withholds food from his own brother Esau to get his brother’s birthright and then lies to his […]

The David and Goliath Saga
How a Biblical editor combined two versions By Emanuel Tov

The University of Pennsylvania’s Jeffrey H. Tigay sets the stage for the article that follows: Since the rise of biblical criticism in the 17th century, scholars have concluded that the books of the Hebrew Bible, like many other ancient literary classics, have not reached us in their original form but are, in their […]

The Patriarch Jacob—An “Innocent Man”
Moral ambiguity in the biblical portrayal By Carl D. Evans

At the beginning of the story of Jacob and Esau, the Bible tells us that Esau was a hunter, a man of the outdoors; Jacob, by contrast, was an ’ îš tām (Genesis 25:27), (pronounced ish tam). If we were to render this expression in accordance with the Bible’s usual meaning of tām (’ […]

Paper-Cuts—An Ancient Art Form Glorifies Biblical Texts

In the deft hands of Jerusalem artist Yehudit Shadur, simple sheets of paper are cut into intricate designs blending the poetic words and images of the Bible. A leading reviver of the traditional Jewish folk art of paper-cutting, Shadur combines a sensitive understanding of well-known biblical stories, an intimate knowledge of the plants and […]

The Earliest Biblical Exegesis is in the Bible Itself

We usually think of exegesis as the external interpretation of a text, and of biblical exegesis as interpretation external to the Bible. Exegesis of the Hebrew Bible began, however, long before the canon closed and the text became fixed. And this exegesis, or interpretation, can be identified within the sacred text itself. I call […]

Joseph—the Brilliant Failure
The true character of the biblical Joseph By Maurice Samuel

Published 30 years ago, the following analysis of Joseph’s character has become a classic among a small group of cognoscenti. The author, Maurice Samuel, was a Jewish literary critic and novelist whose work appeared in Saturday Review of Literature and other journals. He died in 1972. According to Samuel, Joseph was a failure—the Messiah […]

Jacob Takes His Bride
The tales of Jacob By Thomas Mann

Then Jacob said to Laban, “Give me my wife, for my days are fulfilled, that I may go in to her.”

Should “The Book” Be Panned?

Thirty million copies sold. Published in 40 languages. A ten-million-dollar advertising budget, including prime-time television. All royalties going to a charitable foundation.

Explaining the Identical Lines at the End of Chronicles and the Beginning of Ezra

Scholars know it, but most lay people don’t. The first two and a half verses of the Book of Ezra (Ezra 1:1–3a) are identical to the last two verses of the second Book of Chronicles (2 Chronicles 36:22–23). These repeated verses at the end of Chronicles are called “catch-lines.” In ancient times, catch-lines were […]


If I had a little sister, Rachel with sparkling eyes, wooed for seven years and loved by him,

A Major New Introduction to the Bible
Norman Gottwald’s sociological-literary perspective By P. Kyle McCarter Jr.

Norman Gottwald is one of North America’s leading biblical scholars, and he has just published a comprehensive introduction to the Hebrew Bible that will soon make his name known to a very wide audience. It is titled The Hebrew Bible—A Socio-Literary Introduction.1 Gottwald is associated with a sociological approach to the study of ancient […]

The Old Testament Background of Jesus as Begotten of God

In recent issues of Bible Review, two quite different articles have examined the infancy narratives in Matthew and Luke—the only two Gospels that include an account of Jesus’ infancy. The first article—by Kenneth R. R. Gros Louis—was a literary study in which the author examined the differing literary techniques used by these two Gospel […]

The Mothers of Israel
The patriarchal narratives from a feminist perspective By J. Cheryl Exum

When one thinks of the narratives of Genesis 12–50, one thinks of the patriarchs, of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob, and of their special role as bearers of God’s promise to the chosen people. But what of the matriarchs—Sarah, Rebekah, Rachel and Leah—what place do they have in these dramatic sagas of Israel’s […]

How Can Jeremiah Compare the Migration of Birds to Knowledge of God’s Justice?

In biblical times, aspects of nature that are easily explained by modern science were considered mysteries, and sparked a sense of awe. Although today, a scientific explanation is often available, nature still has the power to arouse wonder in us. On the other hand, once a phenomenon is scientifically analyzed and explained, it may […]

Mendenhall Disavows Paternity
Says he didn’t father Gottwald’s Marxist theory By Bernhard W. Anderson

Israel emerged as a people just before the period of the Judges, at the end of what archaeologists call the Late Bronze Age (1550–1200 B.C.) and the beginning of Iron Age I (1200–1000 B.C.)—the time when the Israelite tribes settled in the land of Canaan. Scholars have explained Israel’s emergence in Canaan according to […]

The Trial Before God of an Accused Adulteress

In the Book of Genesis, when Adam sees Eve, he immediately says “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh” (Genesis 2:23). The narrator adds, “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother and shall cleave unto his wife; and they shall be one flesh” (Genesis 2:24). In […]


Win-A-Trip Contest Quiz (#3)
Paintings of the Bible
The end of BR’s second year
My View
Why study religion? By Jacob Neusner
Win-A-Trip Contest Quiz (#1)
Identify the biblical plants
Biblical art and music fill traveling “tent of meeting”
Win-A-Trip Contest Quiz (#2)
Animals of the Bible
The power of the Psalms in our time By Suzanne F. Singer
My View
The newness of the Old Testament By Bernhard W. Anderson