The Idea of Biblical Poetry: Parallelism and Its History

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Johns Hopkins University Press, Jun 5, 1998 - Religion - 339 pages
2 Reviews

Is there poetry in the Bible? Does it have rhyme or meter? How did ancient Hebrew writers compose their works? James Kugel's provocative study provides surprising new answers to these age-old questions. Biblical "poetry" is not a concept native to the Bible itself, he proposes, and the idea that the Bible is divided into prose and verse is merely an approximation of the reality of biblical style. Arguing that the Bible presents a continuum of speech heightened in varying degrees by different means, Kugel sets out to describe Hebrew's high style on its own terms. He also offers a thorough history of the idea of biblical poetry, starting with Philo of Alexandria and Josephus in the first century C.E. and charting its development through the Church Fathers, medieval Jewish writers, the Christian Hebraists of the Renaissance, and on into modern times. The story of how each age understood the nature biblical poetry, Kugel concludes, is a key to understanding the Bible's place in the history of Western thought.

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Review: The Idea of Biblical Poetry: Parallelism and Its History

User Review  - Nicholas Rozier - Goodreads

The first two chapters are worth the price of the book. The remainder is "scholar speak" and not nearly as edifying. Read full review

Review: The Idea of Biblical Poetry: Parallelism and Its History

User Review  - Mike Garner - Goodreads

Great for introducing students to the poetry that fills the Old Testament. Read full review

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About the author (1998)

James Kugel is the Starr Professor of Hebrew Literature at Harvard University and Professor of Bible at Bar Ilan University, Israel. He is the author of Poetry and Prophecy, Early Biblical Interpretation and On Being a Jew, the last available from Johns Hopkins. His The Bible as It Was, an introduction to the Torah's ancient interpreters, was published in 1997.

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