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'How to Read the Bible' Through History

Jan 30, 2006 (Fresh Air)

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Author and scholar Marc Zvi Brettler.

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The modern Bible is the product of translations and interpretations that span centuries. But a true understanding of its meaning should take into account its origins in Jewish culture, according to biblical scholar Marc Zvi Brettler, author of How to Read the Bible.

In his 400-page volume, Brettler examines the historical context — the conventions and ideology — that prevailed at the time the biblical scriptures were written. His approach underscores the literary workings of the text, and ties biblical stories to specific events.

With its emphasis on the historical-critical method, How to Read the Bible provides insight into the history of the Jewish Bible as well as that of Israel itself. The book has been hailed for its relevance to scholars and casual students alike.

Brettler, a professor of biblical literature, is the chair of the Department of Near Eastern and Judaic Studies at Brandeis University.

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