Introduction to the Scriptures of Israel

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Tzvi Novick
An Introduction to the Scriptures of Israel: Historical past and Theology
(Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2018).
Out there at Eerdmans.

By Andrew Judd

An Introduction to the Scriptures of Israel presents a recent approach in to the Hebrew Bible as a piece of literature and theology. An introduction to the research of the Hebrew Bible should compete towards a protracted and sophisticated historical past of vital research. Novick artfully navigates by problems with historicity, textual content criticism and reception to sketch a compelling image of what’s so valuable about this historic textual content that it nonetheless conjures up appreciation and devotion right now.

The e-book was initially developed as a educating software for the introductory theology topics that each one Notre Dame undergraduates are required to take, no matter their chosen self-discipline. As such it’s geared toward an clever non-specialist viewers, with a definite liberal arts course flavour. There aren’t any footnotes, however every chapter has a primary bibliography, instructed main textual content readings, and a few questions for additional reflection. The main focus is on the Hebrew Bible, however a considerate reference is made to later Christian in addition to Jewish reception of the texts.

I discovered the primary attention-grabbing factor concerning the e-book its desk of contents, and the trail it plots into the subject material. An introductory chapter begins with a speech by Rev Martin Luther King Jr and a passage from Justin Martyr’s Dialogue with Trypho as a way to arrange the stress between the themes of universality and of particularity raised by the research of the Bible, earlier than transferring on to a short orientation to the problems raised by in a different way scholarly approaches to the Bible. The subsequent 15 chapters (there is no such thing as a conclusion) take completely different themes as their foci, starting with the Knowledge custom (chapter 1, “Faith with out Revelation”), and ending with the Apocalyptic literature of Daniel and the Lifeless Sea Scrolls (chapter 15) and an outline of the prayer lifetime of Israel within the Psalms (the ultimate episode, chapter 16). So, appropriately for a common theology tasting plate designed to enrich research in additional worldly disciplines, knowledge literature gives the bookends for every little thing in between.

Chapters Three to eight comply with the broad narrative arc of the biblical histories however with a inventive thread to every: the Patriarchal Narratives are joined with the Track of Songs (chapter 3); the Joseph story introduces the artwork of biblical narrative (chapter 4); then the Exodus, Sinai and Monarchy (chapters 5, 6, and seven) put together us for the condemnation of Israel and sparing of the nations in Amos and Jonah (chapter 8).

We then head again to Eden, Babel and the Flood and ponder the intertextuality of Gilgamesh (chapters 9 and 10), earlier than visiting exilic and post-exilic neighborhood (chapter 11), taking a second to think about the connection of Temple and Torah within the deuteronomistic strand of biblical literature. The difficult problems with violence, nationalism and gender are explored by chapters on Joshua and Judges (chapter 13) and Esther, Ruth, Ezra and Nehemiah (chapter 14).

One of many tensions in educating introductory Previous Testomony is the steadiness between presenting materials which is partaking, authentic, foundational and true. Too little that’s partaking or authentic and there’s no level shopping for the e-book; an excessive amount of and college students won’t be able to tell apart settled consensus from somebody flying a kite. Too little time on foundational issues of supply criticism and historicity and college students are unwell ready for later specialised research of the Previous Testomony; an excessive amount of and college students disenroll as quick as you possibly can say “Movie Research is working a course on Sensible Interview Abilities for Getting an Internship whereas Surviving the Postcolonial Zombie Apocalypse (Examine Tour, go/fail)”.

No textbook can do every little thing, and at slightly below 200 pages this one doesn’t attempt to be a complete introduction to the sector (for that there are multi-volume commonplace works to go well with each theological persuasion). The steadiness of content material is thus confidently calibrated in the direction of the purpose of partaking generalist college students with the relevance of the Hebrew Bible. I don’t suppose completely every little thing the e-book confidently asserts is true, however not less than it isn’t boring.

There’s a lot to commend this e-book. I admire its appreciation for the Hebrew Bible as literature. I admire the way in which it finds elegant threads by the possibly overwhelming mass of particulars. For liberal arts college students who have to dip their toes in for a semester and are unlikely to go on to wish to know each side of each scholarly debate, this could possibly be an gratifying textual content which (most vital of all) will get them studying the Bible.

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