A new tool explains how to study the Bible effectively
New York: Cambridge Univ. Press, 2010, 244 pp.
$85 (hardcover), $27.99 (paperback)
A recently published book of essays edited by Ronald Hendel puts forward, in the voices of ten different Biblical scholars, new and enlightening ways to read and understand some of the most well-known stories in the Book of Genesis. Reviewed by Kent Harold Richards, this latest compendium of Biblical scholarship furthers our understanding of Genesis Bible study and demonstrates through each essay how to study the Bible effectively. Richards warns, however, that this book is not for the beginner. While he credits Ronald Hendel with concisely but thoroughly providing proper context for the essays, Richards warns that Ronald Hendel’s new book is predicated upon an understanding of Genesis Bible study, including both basic knowledge of the text and familiarity with traditional critical approaches.Several of the topics addressed in this volume on Genesis Bible study include culture memory perspectives as demonstrated by focusing on slightly different dimensions of the Jacob story, reflections on gender and sexuality in Genesis, specifically as they pertain to the story of Sodom and Gomorrah, as well as the issues surrounding various Biblical translations. One of the essays in Ronald Hendel’s book emphasizes that the awareness of contemporary and now-obscure literary sources–and their redaction–is important in order to achieve a fuller understanding of the first few chapters of Genesis, and thus Genesis Bible study. Such an approach is lauded by Richards, who then goes on to support another essay’s premise that a useful tool in how to study the Bible effectively is not to apologetically smooth over questions that arise from readings of Biblical texts, but rather to approach the texts critically.
Richards’s review of this new book by Ronald Hendel makes a strong case for continually striving for fresh and new perspectives in the approach to Genesis Bible study. Richards’s endorsement of Reading Genesis: Ten Methods edited by Ronald Hendel–and reflecting the scholarship of ten dynamic voices in the field–is a strong case for adding both the book and the critical methods it advocates to the practice of Genesis Bible study.
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