Bible Review, 1999
I grew up thinking of Samson as nothing more than a Hebrew Hercules and Esther as just another pretty young queen. Later in life, I recognized there was something more to these two characters: By transcending the limits of their own personalities and circumstances, both underwent an amazing spiritual transformation. Each moved from psychological […]
The first woman has been blamed for a host of ills—from inspiring witches to being the very source of sin. Tracing the roots of Eve’s bad reputation leads not to Genesis (as many people assume) but to an obscure set of texts known as the pseudepigrapha.
Of the 0 elders who advised Moses, why are these two the only ones mentioned by name?
Adam fathered not only Cain and Abel but, in his old age, a third son. What lessons can we draw from the life of this youngest child, who became the ancestor of us all?
January 1, 2000…The biggest birthday any of us will ever live through,” trumpeted the New York Times in announcing the Millennium Series in its Sunday magazine. Newspapers predict that as many as 1.5 million people will crowd Times Square at midnight, December 31, 1999, watched by an estimated television audience of more than 1 billion. […]
The Bible’s portrayal of the Chosen People preserves the good and the bad.
According to biblical law, every 50 years a Jubilee year is to be proclaimed—debts are to be canceled, and property is to be returned to its original owner. How such a year could avoid causing economic disruption and chaos, however, has been hard for scholars to understand. Many have regarded the Jubilee law as […]
Bible scholar Richard Elliott Friedman claims to have found the world’s first prose masterpiece embedded in the Bible. This hidden book, he claims, opens with the Creation and ends with the death of David. Our two-part coverage begins with an article by BR editor Hershel Shanks, who details Friedman’s unconventional theory. In part two, Friedman’s book serves as a springboard for a spirited discussion among three leading scholars on how the Bible came to be.
A remarkable child, his birth hailed by visitors from afar, grows into a miracle worker who spreads a faith of love and compassion. Jesus? Yes, but also Buddha. Our authors explore the uncanny parallels in their lives and whether there are any connections.
What sorts of men were Simon Peter, Andrew, James and John—crude, ignorant laborers or savvy and practical men of the world? The reliability of much of the Gospels rides on the answer.
Ancient versions of the Bible are far from error-free. Happily, a better understanding of the Dead Sea Scrolls and of how manuscripts evolved has helped resolve some of the vexing textual problems.
Cats can have nine lives, not people. But the case of Dead Sea Scroll specialist Geza Vermes will make you wonder. His remarkable life is now encapsulated in an autobiography, reviewed herein.
I. For more than 1,800 years, the mirrorlike natures of the Buddha and Jesus remained buried in the ancient texts of each religion. Then scholars examining these holy books began to detect remarkable patterns.
Hershel Shanks: Do you agree or disagree, or don’t you know whether you agree, with Dick Friedman’s contention that J, as we have it in the Tetrateuch, is also the author of the passages he identifies in Deuteronomy and the rest of the Deuteronomistic History through Kings? P. Kyle McCarter: In one word? Ronald S. Hendel: Scholars can’t use just one word.
How can we discover—or uncover—the Israelite God in the text of the Hebrew Bible? That is the problem scholars refer to as Old Testament theology. A recent book that has created quite a stir in the academy, written by the prominent Old Testament theologian Walter Brueggemann, answers the question in a way that I believe […]
When the Israelites fled Egypt, they were accompanied by a slew of dubious characters—an odd detail that may lend credibility to the biblical account.
The text itself is music. Like a refrain, the litany of instruments is repeated four times in chapter 3 of the Book of Daniel: “the cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, and dulcimer, and all kinds of musick.” Like an insistent ostinato, the names Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-Nego—the three young Hebrew exiles who will be fed […]
We like to think of Holy Writ as unchanging, but the ancients didn’t. A study of the Dead Sea Scrolls reveals that texts could exist in different forms—even be consciously modified—without losing their sanctity.
When the National Rifle Association recently elected Charlton Heston, who is best known for his portrayal of Moses in Cecil B. DeMille’s The Ten Commandments, as its new president, the NRA’s vice president said that it was “a way of saying, ‘Hey, Moses is on our side.’” And when Jeffrey Katzenberg, cofounder of the […]
II. If Jesus did not travel to India, if the Buddha’s teachings did not enter Palestine via the Silk Road, then how can their similarities be explained? In the following essay, Marcus Borg contemplates the possibility that they derive not from cultural borrowing but from shared experiences.
The task of the biblical text critic is to try to make sense of biblical verses. The text critic faces many kinds of problems. I would like to offer as illustrations two cases where I would recommend emending the text—actually changing the biblical text as it has come down to us to a version […]
We expect to learn from the lives of great people, not from their deaths. But in the case of Miriam, Aaron and Moses, their deaths reflect their lives.
Three gospels tell of the devil testing Jesus in the wilderness, an incident so remarkable as to seem almost certainly unreal. But is it? Our author suggests a historical core to the tale, a substratum reflecting struggles Jesus faced in his lifetime.
Although the Bible emphasizes the differences between Isaac and Ishmael, the half brothers suffer at least one strikingly similar life (or should we say near-death) experience. Do they have more in common than we thought?
Dead Sea Scroll scholars have long debated the identity of the shadowy figure described in the scrolls as the Teacher of Righteousness. But was he a historical figure or someone expected at the end of time?
Leviticus bans the Israelites from bowing upon a maskit stone. But what is a maskit? A recently deciphered Assyrian inscription may hold the key to identifying this mysterious prohibited object.
Did Paul preach the gospel of Jesus Christ for Christians alone—as John Gager recently proposed in BR? Or was his message intended for both Jews and Christians?