The Meaning of the Bible: What the Jewish Scriptures and Christian Old Testament Can Teach Us
In this lively and fresh introduction to the scriptures of ancient Israel (what Christians call the Old Testament and Jews call the Tanakh), two preeminent biblical scholars, Douglas A. Knight and Amy-Jill Levine, combine their passion and expertise to examine not just what the Bible says but what it means. Through their eyes we see anew the Bible’s literary brilliance, moral profundity, historical settings, and implications for our faiths and our future.
Passed down for generations, compiled between 500 and 100 BCE, and finalized around the time of Jesus, the various accounts in the Hebrew Bible took shape under a variety of cultures. Drawing on their extensive biblical scholarship, Knight and Levine explore this diverse history and equip us with the critical tools necessary to understand what the ancient texts originally meant. With long experience in teaching candidates for the ministry as well as undergraduate and graduate students, they also explore the possible meanings the texts hold today for churches, synagogues, and anyone interested in the Bible’s legacy.
Knight and Levine begin with the broader biblical story—its historical context, literary artistry, and geographical setting. They then turn to the major biblical themes with which modern readers continue to wrestle: law and justice, human evil and God’s response, belief and practice, chaos and creation, war and peace, gender and sexuality, politics and economics, practical wisdom and apocalyptic vision. For each topic, they provide both general overviews and specific analyses of select biblical passages, explaining how and why their approaches reveal new insights and offering various strategies for informed interpretation.
Throughout, Knight and Levine inspire us to ask new questions and develop a deeper understanding of one of the greatest collections of literature known to humankind—as illuminating today as it was two thousand years ago.