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The Philosophy of Hebrew Scripture [Kindle Edition]

Yoram Hazony
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)

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Book Description

What if the Hebrew Bible wasn't meant to be read as 'revelation'? What if it's not really about miracles or the afterlife - but about how to lead our lives in this world? The Philosophy of Hebrew Scripture proposes a new framework for reading the Bible. It shows how biblical authors used narrative and prophetic oratory to advance universal arguments about ethics, political philosophy and metaphysics. It offers bold new studies of biblical narratives and prophetic poetry, transforming forever our understanding of what the stories of Abel, Abraham, Jacob, Joseph, Moses and David and the speeches of Isaiah and Jeremiah, were meant to teach. The Philosophy of Hebrew Scripture assumes no belief in God or other religious commitment. It assumes no previous background in Bible. It is free of disciplinary jargon. Open the door to a book you never knew existed. You'll never read the Bible the same way again.

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'It would be hard to exaggerate the importance of Hazony's splendid work. This bold attempt to distil the intellectual essence of biblical wisdom deserves the widest possible audience and the most careful attention, regardless of religious denomination or lack of it, from philosophers.' Standpoint Magazine

'Not only is The Philosophy of Hebrew Scripture a must for philosophy scholars, but also for every thinking Jew who wants to understand and appreciate the Torah from an intellectual perspective. Written in an accessible style, it casts new light on biblical characters and narrative, encouraging us to use our minds to understand its psychological and philosophical complexity.' Doreen Wachmann, Jewish Telegraph

'As an approach to the Old Testament as philosophy, worthy to be placed alongside any 'reasoned' later work it is something of a masterpiece.' Church Times

'First, Hazony's work is an important contribution to understanding the dynamic of the biblical story of Cain and Abel. Second, Hazony's argument is important for understanding not just Genesis 4 but as a radical critique of the general understanding of the entire Hebrew Bible.' Steven D. Ealy, Books and Culture

Book Description

What if the Bible wasn't meant to be read as 'revelation'? The Philosophy of Hebrew Scripture proposes a new framework for reading the Bible, transforming forever our understanding of what the stories of Abraham, Jacob, Joseph, Moses and David and the speeches of Isaiah and Jeremiah, were meant to teach.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1942 KB
  • Print Length: 393 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0521176670
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Up to 4 simultaneous devices, per publisher limits
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press (16 July 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0096BCVPG
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
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  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #475,672 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
By Ralph Blumenau TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
In his introduction, Hazony makes two major points. The first is that the history of philosophy as taught in the universities and in general text books, pays next to no attention to the philosophy of the Hebrew Bible: for them the history of philosophy begins with the Greeks and with Christianity. (Teaching, as I do, the philosophy of Biblical Judaism as part of my History of Philosophy course, I had been quite unconscious of this first point.) The second point is that, while they ignore the fact that early Greek philosophers like Parmenides, Empedocles and even Socrates claim that the philosophical positions they expounded were attained with the help of the gods, they dismiss as unworthy of philosophy any position in the Hebrew Bible that is attributed to a revelation by God. The distinction, let alone the clash, between Reason and Revelation, Hazony believes, simply did not exist before the Fathers of the Christian Church first adopted it, to be vigorously resumed by the Enlightenment as part of its denigration of Revelation.

In the rest of the book Hazony then shows the philosophy that is to be found in the Hebrew Bible. He writes that the many books that make up the Hebrew Bible as we now have it were collected, EDITED and then presented to us to make a coherent philosophical whole. The Redactor saw the historical books from Genesis to the Babylonian exile as central, and the books of the Prophets as a philosophical, political, ethical and, above all, critical commentary on especially the later parts of that history. There is further philosophical material in Psalms, Proverbs, Job and Kohelet (Ecclesiastes).
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent and Compelling Argument 15 July 2013
By T
Yoram Hazony presents a compelling argument: the Hebrew Scripture can and should be read as a work of philosophical reason. He does not altogether dismiss the place of Scripture as a work of revelation (`miraculous knowledge'), however, he rightly challenges the historical claim that Scripture can only be read as revelation - a view taken up by the Church Fathers in Antiquity as a positive against philosophy, and then used by Enlightenment thinkers negatively against the church. The patristic reading of the Hebrew Bible is `an alien interpretive framework that prevents us from seeing much of what is in these texts', suppressing the Bible's appeal to reason (p. 3). The Hebrew Scriptures, however, predate the reason-revelation dichotomy by five hundred years, and are written in a unique language with a unique understanding of the world. Hazony believes the Hebrew Bible has been too long overlooked as a work worthy of philosophical worth, thus rendering it irrelevant for the purpose of study in schools and universities alike. However, it holds valuable insights that speak today to both Jew and Gentile.

In the introduction, `Beyond Reason and Revelation', Hazony illustrates how the great Greek philosophical texts often refer to the inspiration or revelation of deities (for example, Parmenides' goddess and Socrates' daemon). However, this does not preclude them from being considered great philosophical texts. Far from it, they are the bedrock, so if ancient Greek philosophy can accommodate divine revelation then why the objection to the Hebrew Scriptures?

`Part I: Reading Hebrew Scripture' consists of Chapter 2, `The Structure of the Hebrew Bible', Chapter 3, `What is the Purpose of the Hebrew Bible?' and Chapter 4, `How does the Bible Make Arguments of a General Nature?
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very accessible 27 April 2013
By William Cohen VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
If you're going to read theology/philosophy written by an academic, you've go to be careful. This book is just wonderful. I could read it on the train. I loved the interpretations of Jeremiah and Genesis. I loved the idea of a vulnerable God, who admires 'entrepreneurship'. When it goes on to philosophy rather than Scripture, it gets a bit less fun.

This is the kind of book that motivates me to go back to the texts and see them in a fresh light. The author is doing his bit to rehabilitate the Bible as one of the great sacred texts of civilisation - a practical self-help book above all.

There's a good video of Hazony discussing the book with the Chief Rabbi on You Tube.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A must for all thinking christians. 23 Oct. 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
A must for all thinking christians. First of all, because the author helps us demystify the Bible. By approaching it is as a book one can think about without necessarily stepping on sacred ground - because it is a book that has a lot to say about how we live, think and interact. The Bible is quite earthly.
Also, mr Hazony sheds new light on what are by many considered to be "familiar" Scriptures, but lets us discover new perspectives by his knowledge of Hebrew.
Easy to read, but profound in its insight.
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