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The Hidden Book in the Bible: Restored, Translated, and Introduced by Richard Elliott Friedman [Hardcover]

Richard Elliott Friedman
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Oct 1998
Renowned biblical sleuth and scholar Richard Elliot Friedman reveals the first work of prose literature in the world-a 3000-year-old epic hidden within the books of the Hebrew Bible. Written by a single, masterful author but obscured by ancient editors and lost for millennia, this brilliant epic of love, deception, war, and redemption is a compelling account of humankind's complex relationship with God. Friedman boldly restores this prose masterpiece-the very heart of the Bible-to the extraordinary form in which it was originally written.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


Product details

  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: HarperSanFrancisco; 1 edition (Oct 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060630035
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060630034
  • Product Dimensions: 23.9 x 16.4 x 3.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 815,277 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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About the Author

Richard Elliott Friedman is the Davis Professor of Jewish Studies at the University of Georgia and the Katzin Professor of Jewish Civilization at the University of California, San Diego. One of the premier biblical scholars in the country, he received his doctorate at Harvard, was a visiting fellow at Oxford and Cambridge, and was a senior fellow at the American School of Oriental Research in Jerusalem. He is the author of The Disappearance of God (published in paperback as The Hidden Face of God), The Hidden Book in the Bible, Commentary on the Torah, The Bible with Sources Revealed, The Exile and Biblical Narrative, and the bestselling Who Wrote the Bible?. He works in Akkadian, Aramaic, Greek, Hebrew, Latin, Ugaritic, French, and German. He was an American Council of Learned Societies Fellow and was president of the Biblical Colloquium West. His books have been translated into Hebrew, German, Italian, Spanish, Japanese, Polish, Hungarian, Dutch, Portuguese, Czech, Turkish, and French. He has been interviewed by CNN s Larry King and on NPR s All Things Considered and Morning Edition and Radio Times and Talk of the Nation. Articles and citations of his work have appeared in the Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, U.S. News & World Report, Time, Newsweek, and other print media. He was a consultant for the Dreamworks film The Prince of Egypt, for NBC The Eternal Light, for A&E Mysteries of the Bible, and for A&E Who Wrote the Bible?, for PBS Nova: The People of the Covenant: The Origins of Ancient Israel and the Emergence of Judaism, for European television's ARTE The Bible Revealed, and for PBS The Kingdom of David. A consultant to universities, journals, encyclopedias, and publishers, he is also the editor of four books on biblical studies and has authored more than fifty articles, reviews, and notes in scholarly and popular publications. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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EVERY NEW TRANSLATION OF THE BIBLE BRINGS ITS OWN SET OF PURPOSE IN ADDITION TO THE TRANSLATOR'S PARTICULAR SKILLS AND FEELINGS FOR THE TEXTS. Read the first page
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A partly concealed treasure in The Book. 29 Oct 1998
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
The fascinating untangling of the Flood story that Professor Friedman gave us in "Who Wrote the Bible?" is carried many steps forward in this captivating feast of detective work and biblical scholarship. A well structured story has been partially 'hidden' by the tangle of 'cut and paste' of the biblical text over the centuries. It begins with the writings of "J" in Genesis 2:4b, but then it is scattered throughout several biblical books, from Genesis to Kings. Yet all of its parts can be identified by their similar stylistic, thematic and vocabulary characteristics. He demonstrates with very convincing arguments that the similarities of the various components are far in excess than what could be expected by virtue of imitation or chance. And what emerges is 'the heart of the Bible', a beautiful narrative with a wondrous begining, a fascinating developoment towards the eventual fulfillment of a promise. It is the mother of most of the beloved biblical stories that we learn since childhood, and the one that routed the cultural and religious development of the Western world. And it appears to be the work of a single author, possibly a woman.
Professor Friedman's book is organized in three parts: introduction, a new translation into English of the entire 'hidden' Hebrew text, and scholarly notes to document and support the thesis of the author-translator. It is best to read the three parts in order. The first part describes the origin of the idea and the years of research and discovery that led to the identification and concatenation of all the parts of the 'hidden' book. The second part is the actual translation of the Hebrew text into English, and carries the title, 'In the Day", which is the translation of its first word.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars IN THE DAY 26 Sep 2008
By Pieter Uys HALL OF FAME TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
This absorbing study identifies the earliest work of prose literature heretofore hidden in the Tenakh/Old Testament. Extracted from Genesis, Exodus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, I & II Samuel and I Kings and restored, translated & introduced by Friedman, the narrative does seem to be the work of one author who probably wrote in the time of King Solomon. It starts with creation and ends with the establishment of the Kingdom of Israel. Originally a united story, it was cut up by the Bible's editors so that other narratives, laws and poetry were inserted into & around it.

In the Introduction, Friedman relates how he discovered this text, the reasons for considering it one unified work and where it is found in the Bible. He explains the sources called J (this work), E, D and P as used by biblical scholars plus words, phrases, images and themes that appear in J and nowhere else. In essence it is a tapestry of interactions between God and mankind. He considers the identity of the author, speculating that she/he lived in the Kingdom of Judah most likely in the latter 9th century BC, was probably a lay person and may have been female.

Friedman's approach to the translation was to stick close to the original Hebrew, opting for consistency in the English, retaining idioms when their meaning is clear and using the Tetragrammaton instead of its substitutes. Some of the intricacies will be of interest only to the linguist but I found them fascinating. Footnotes have been kept to a minimum whilst difficult words and passages are explained elsewhere so that the reader is not distracted.

The narrative itself flows with a remarkable rhythm.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
By Pieter Uys HALL OF FAME TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover
This remarkable book identifies the earliest work of prose literature heretofore hidden in the Old Testament. It was extracted from Genesis, Exodus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, I & II Samuel and I Kings. Restored, translated and introduced by Friedman, the narrative does seem to be the work of one author and was probably written in the time of King Solomon. Originally a united story, it was cut up by the Bible's editors so that other narratives, laws and poetry were inserted into and around it.

In the Introduction, Friedman relates how he discovered this story, the reasons for considering it one unified work and where it is found in the Bible. He deals with the different sources called J (this work), E, D and P as used by biblical scholars plus words, phrases, images and themes that appear in J and nowhere else in the Bible. In essence it is a tapestry of interactions between God and mankind. He speculates on the identity of the author, asserting that she/he lived in the Kingdom of Judah most likely in the latter 9th century BC, was probably a lay person and may have been female.

Friedman explains his approached to the translation; he stuck close to the original Hebrew, opting for consistency in the English, retaining idioms when their meaning is clear and using the Tetragrammaton instead of its substitutes. Some of the intricacies will be of interest only to the linguist but I found them fascinating. Footnotes have been kept to a minimum whilst difficult words and passages are explained elsewhere so that the reader is not distracted.

The narrative itself flows with a remarkable rhythm.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.1 out of 5 stars  35 reviews
48 of 49 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fleshed out "Book of J" is good, regardless of authorship 9 Nov 1998
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
First, a quick primer: People who study the Bible divide the Old Testament into four basic categories depending on who wrote what: The Yahwist Texts, Elohist Texts, Deuteromnic, and Priestly. Yawhist and Elohist texts are both attributed to single authors. Yahwist came from Judah probably, while Elohist came from northern Israel. Their focus is to a large degree in line with where they came from: 1st Kings is Yahwist, 2nd Kings is Elohist. Both write about similar things at times which is why there are similar stories in the Bible, such as Joshua crossing the Jordan River and Moses crossing the Red Sea. "YHVH", or "Yahweh", is where the Latin "Iehova" came from, which is where our "Jehovah" came from today, hence the Yawhist Texts are sometimes called the "J" Texts. The Book of "J" is universally attributed to one author.
I never read the "Book of J", so this is the first time I have had the chance to see the Yawhist Texts put end to end. The adding of additional material into "the book of J" is controversial. Nonetheless it's a fascinating read.
I have one item of concern with the adding of the Material. Just because passages are similar does not mean that they are attributed to the same hand. While the case is strongly made that certain passages _ARE_ related due to word choice and theme, it doesn't mean that relationship is one of authorship. It is entirely possible that the passages can be inter-related with word choice and theme and still be written by different people. It is an age-old technique to gain respectibility of your work/point by mimicking something that came before, and letting readers catch on to it. For example, the Book of Matthew, intended for Jewish readers, is divided into five major "parts", similar in design to the Torah. Jesus and his family flee into Egypt to escape Herod because of Herod's killing of First Borns is at about the same placement as the Book of Exodus in terms of Matthew's progression vs. Torah Progression, and that was done on purpose. It was to make Jewish people _SEE_ the connection of Jesus to themselves. In spite of the similarities here, nobody claims that the Book of Exodus and Book of Matthew were written by the same person. It's just a deliberate similarity--one author mimicked the themes of another on purpose.
The same thing can happen in the Book of Kings vs. the Cain and Able story--one author ties his work into the significance of another. It doesn't necessarily mean both are written by the same person.
Nevertheless, even _IF_ the various passages were written by different people, SEEING THE PASSAGES LINED UP/LINKED IN THE WAY THE _HIDDEN BIBLE_ DOES IT BRINGS OUT THEMES AND MEANINGS WE WOULD OTHERWISE MISS. For that reason by itself, the Hidden Bible would be worth the read, regardles if the Author is one person or several. There are other reasons to be sure, but in the end the themes still hold regardless of authorship.
46 of 47 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Friedman's best work yet. 9 Feb 2002
By reason - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
It makes intuitive sense that there might be a single dominant thread in the Hebrew bible, with a timeline running from the creation story through the rule of David. Friedman, expanding on his earlier work "Who wrote the Bible", develops his thesis of this core work (with a sole author) through painstaking linguistic analysis and textual criticism. Within his interpretation of what is referred to by documentary hypothesis scholars as the "J" (Yahwist) account, you'll be surprised by such things as a very different rendering of the ten commandments, to say nothing of some surprising redefinitions of words and phrases that will both amuse and enlighten you.
All in all, the reader will feel as if they are seeing an extremely unvarnished and unedited version of ancient Israel's history for the first time, and if you really enjoy an in-depth look at the construction of the Torah, as well as the court era of the old testament, this work will not disappoint you. One warning though: be prepared, if your academic skills lie elsewhere, to read it twice because Friedman will put you through your paces in terms of the biblical expertise required of you to understand his thesis. Additionally, I would recommend that you read "Who Wrote The Bible" as a prelude to this book.
47 of 49 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Intriguing Reinterpretation of the Bible 1 Feb 2002
By Sauropod - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Friedman argues that the so-called "J" material in the Hebrew Bible (traditionally limited to the Pentateuch) actually includes large parts of Joshua, Judges, and Samuel. The bulk of the book consists of Friedman's translation of the passages he ascribes to J, which fit together into a reasonably coherent narrative. I'm not sure I'm convinced, though. The established J material includes talking animals (the serpent in the garden, Baalam's donkey), spectacular miracles, and many theophanies (God walking in the garden, closing the door of Noah's ark). The material in Joshua, Judges, and Samuel has little or none of this; it is much more realistic in tone. Still, Friedman's theory is provocative and interesting, and his book should appeal to anyone with an interest in the historical context of the Hebrew Bible.
35 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Enjoy the Bible story as you have never read it before. 20 Oct 1999
By Kenneth Troy - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Having studied the Old Testament for over 60 years, it was always the genealogy and the talmudic laws that killed the enjoyment of the poetry and story line in the Old Testament.
But in this wonderful book Professor Friedman after years of work and study uncovered the Hidden book within the Bible, the story by J. Here is the first great prose of mankind. Shorn of all the additions heaped on it by editors with their own agendas you now have a work of beauty. It is more like Homer or Shakespeare. I never thought, I not only would understand the story of the Hebrews from creation to King Solomon, but would truly enjoy reading it. Boiled down to 222 pages of beautifully printed text, Professor Friedman calls this version "IN THE DAY" taken from the first three words of this new revision of the Book of J. He shows why his translation works by as he says "presenting the text of the original as carefully as possible. This translation is made from Hebrew original sources. This is a big departure from for example the King James version that used Greek translations that muddied the works even further.
Let me quote Freidman. "Readers have an opportunity to see the first great prose writer's full achievement; an epic work of the struggle between God and humans. and between good and bad." Professor Friedman is one of the most interesting biblical writers actively writing today.
49 of 55 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An implausible theory supported by special pleading 11 Jun 1999
By David Richter - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Harold Bloom imagined the author of the Court History of David (the document behind most of 2 Samuel) as the husband of the princess he imagined wrote the "Book of J" (the J document that makes up a large part of Genesis, Exodus and Numbers). Richard Elliott Friedman goes this one better: he imagines them as the same person (not committing himself to whether that person was male or female). The basis for the claim is primarily verbal parallels. For example, the "ktonet pasim" (mistranslated "coat of many colours") that Joseph wears in Genesis 37:3 is repeated in 2 Samuel 13: 18, as the garment Tamar, David's daughter, is wearing when she is raped by her half-brother Amnon. And the phrase is repeated nowhere else in the Bible. There are indeed a lot of verbal parallels between the J document and parts of the Deuteronomistic History. The problem is that verbal parallels can occur for a number of different reasons: the same authorship, allusion by one author to the work of an earlier author, or simply by chance. Friedman often tries to suggest that some of the stories in Genesis are parallel to stories in 2 Samuel, but often these parallelisms are phony. For example, Friedman claims that in Genesis four brothers are in contention for the succession to the blessing of Jacob: Reuben, Simeon, Levi, and Judah, and the blessing falls to the youngest of the four, Judah. Meanwhile in 2 Samuel, four brothers are contending for the succession to David: Amnon, Absalom, Adonijah, and Solomon, and the succession eventually goes to Solomon. But anyone looking back at Genesis would see that (1) a fifth brother is in sharper contention than the four Friedman mentions: Joseph; and (2) the fates of the four sons of Leah are very different from those of the four sons (all by different mothers) of David: only Solomon survives David's death by more than a month. So while by twisting and pushing the two stories can be made to seem to line up, a little reflection suggests that the parallels aren't really parallel. The evidence of the verbal parallels is much stronger, and it may be convincing to some readers. I think, though, that this is a case of looking too hard at the trees and missing the forest. The J narrator and the Court Historian share an ability to deftly characterize persons and to create a swiftly moving plot. But the narratives are very different in flavor. J's story is richly mythic, set among characters who are larger than life, while the Court Historian is presenting a tale of political intrigue among people who are all too human. Friedman's theory finally stands or falls on one question: if there was one writer for both the J narrative and the Court History of David, when did he or she write them? Friedman presents a date toward the end of the ninth century B.C.E. The lateness of the date is chosen to accommodate a phrase in the blessing of Esau by Isaac in Genesis 27:40, which indicates that Edom (the nation founded by Esau) will eventually throw off the yoke of Jacob (the nation of Israel). That happened around the reign of king Joash, about 815 BCE. But it seems very implausible to me that the narrative of the Court History of David was written any later than during the reign of Solomon. The narrative deals in great detail with the personalities not only of David's children but his courtiers--Jonadab, Achithophel, Shimeah, Barzillai--all of whom come alive as people whose virtues and vices made history of David's reign happen. It seems obvious to me that whoever wrote the Court History knew these people; they weren't vague memories or reconstructions of folks who had lived and died over 150 years before. My own guess would be that the person who wrote J knew the Court History of David, was influenced by its vocabulary and turns of phrase, but probably wrote a generation or more later. But I wouldn't insist that anyone agree with me. On Friedman's theory my verdict would be "not proven."
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