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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
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. The biblical text has been rendered into English with clarity and forwardness. Instead of the majestic wording of the King James version, where the idea often appears dim behind archaic expressions and clarifying words, Professor Friedman's English rendition faithfully reflects the economy of vocabulary and structure of the Hebrew language. The translation is conveyed with a classic beauty that contrasts with the pedestrian, uninspiring English of some contemporary translations. The last part of the work will be of interest to biblical scholars, but much of it is within reach for educated readers.
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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 "Toypom" (Johannesburg) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)   
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. It is titled "In The Day" from its opening words and consists of approximately three thousand sentences. I am pleased that Friedman keeps it simple in English; reading the text is quite refreshing compared to the Bible translations one is familiar with. Critics of the Bible are often confused as to what the Bible reports and what the Bible teaches. This story is almost pure reportage although in the telling of the story some interesting lessons come to light.

In the Afterword, Friedman explores the themes and points out how key elements introduced in the first chapters are resolved in the last two. Themes include the relationship between the sexes and between fathers and sons, fratricide, and the positions of king, priest, prophet and military leader. It is about families in particular and the tension between divine direction and the human desire for independence. Both history and novel, the text was divided by other narratives, wisdom literature, poetry and the visions of the prophets.

The Textual Notes provide further explanation with reference to verses from Genesis to Kings, whilst the Appendix gives a more detailed treatment of the evidence for the antiquity and unity of the work. It consists of 4 parts: (a) evidence for the unity of the work (b) evidence for its antiquity (c) response to criticism of recent scholarship that claims a late date of composition (d) a chart demonstrating the distribution of terminology that characterizes In The Day.

Under (a), Friedman presents proof in the form of terminology, narrative continuity, allusion, similarity of whole accounts, repeated prose images and theme, plus a consideration of the implications if this analysis is correct. Under (b) he returns to a discussion of the aforementioned sources like J, P and E and the views of biblical scholars on their antiquity. An interesting fact: the historical referents in this work (J) overwhelmingly relate to Judah, and those of E to Israel (the Northern Kingdom). Linguistic-historical research on the Hebrew language is also examined here.

(D) is introduced by a lengthy analysis of the work of scholars Blum and Van Seters with reference to Hurvitz, Polzin, Rendsburg, Zevit, Halpern, Kaufmann and others. A table titled Distribution Of Terms In Prose Narrative provides comparisons of Hebrew words and expressions in Genesis to Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, I Samuel and II Samuel with the rest of the Old Testament. The book concludes with 10 pages of bibliographic notes on the Introduction, Afterword and Appendix.

A thought-provoking theme of In The Day is the boomerang effect of human actions and the cyclical or echo-effect of mankind's behavior; there are repeating patterns from the earliest times. Also the irony in what I would call the "karmic" nature of this process which applies to good, bad and neutral actions. It is something like a template built into cosmic law and is humorous in some instances.

But by far the most important insight that it provided to this reader is about the nature of God. For better or worse, the God of the Old Testament is often perceived as vengeful and uncompromising. This core text paints a different picture, one of a Deity often torn between justice and mercy. In other words, God gets angry but does not stay angry and forgives upon repentance. This is just my opinion, but it seems that God gets angry about the evil that mankind brings upon itself and does intercede when asked, in order to alleviate it.

Reading this work has greatly stimulated my interest in the process of redaction of the Bible. Who were the editors and when was it done? I say this in light of having recently read the equally absorbing book by Jeffrey Satinover called Cracking the Bible Code, a scholarly work that explores layers of meaning encrypted in the language and Hebrew letters of the books of Moses. I assume that these hidden codes occur right across In The Day (J) as well as the other aforementioned sources, in other words, cohesively through the final text. This is most intriguing and a matter that ought to be investigated further.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Strange & wonderful narrative core of the Old Testament, 3 Dec 2007
By 
Pieter Uys "Toypom" (Johannesburg) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)   
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. It is titled "In The Day" from its opening words and consists of approximately three thousand sentences. I am pleased that Friedman keeps it simple in English; reading the text is quite refreshing compared to the Bible translations one is familiar with. Critics of the Bible are often confused as to what the Bible reports and what the Bible teaches. This story is almost pure reportage although in the telling of the story some interesting lessons come to light. It starts with creation and ends with the establishment of the Kingdom of Israel.

In the Afterword, Friedman explores the themes and points out how key elements introduced in the first chapters are resolved in the last two. Themes include the relationship between the sexes and between fathers and sons, fratricide, and the positions of king, priest, prophet and military leader. It is about families in particular and the tension between divine direction and the human desire for independence. It is both history and a novel. Around it, other accounts were added, as well as wisdom literature, poetry and the visions of the prophets in order to assemble the Good Book.

The Textual Notes provide further explanation with reference to verses from Genesis to Kings, whilst the Appendix gives a more detailed treatment of the evidence for the antiquity and unity of the work. It consists of 4 parts: (a) evidence for the unity of the work (b) evidence for its antiquity (c) response to criticism of recent scholarship that claims a late date of composition for these texts (d) a chart demonstrating the distribution of terminology that characterizes In The Day.

Under (a), Friedman presents proof in the form of terminology, narrative continuity, allusion, similarity of whole accounts, repeated prose images and theme, plus a consideration of the implications if this analysis is correct. Under (b) he returns to a discussion of the aforementioned sources like J, P and E and the views of biblical scholars on their antiquity. An interesting fact: the historical referents in this work (J) overwhelmingly relate to Judah, and those of E to Israel (the Northern Kingdom). The linguistic-historical research on the Hebrew language is also considered here.

(D) is introduced by a lengthy analysis of the work of scholars Blum and Van Seters with reference to Hurvitz, Polzin, Rendsburg, Zevit, Halpern, Kaufmann and others. A table titled Distribution Of Terms In Prose Narrative provides comparisons of Hebrew words and expressions in Genesis to Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, I Samuel and II Samuel with the rest of the Old Testament. The book concludes with 10 pages of bibliographic notes on the Introduction, Afterword and Appendix.

A thought-provoking theme of In The Day is the boomerang effect of human actions and the cyclical or echo-effect of mankind's behavior. There are repeating patterns from the earliest times. Also the irony in what I would call the "karmic" nature of this process which applies to good, bad and neutral actions. It is something like a template built into cosmic law and is humorous in some instances.

But by far the most important insight that it provided to this reader is about the nature of God. For better or worse, the God of the Old Testament is often perceived as vengeful and uncompromising. This core text paints a different picture, one of a Deity often torn between justice and mercy. In other words, God gets angry but does not stay angry and forgives upon repentance. This is just my opinion, but it seems that God gets angry about the evil that mankind brings upon itself and does intercede when asked, in order to alleviate it.

Reading this work has greatly piqued my interest in the process of redaction of the Bible. Who were the editors and when was it done? I say this in light of having recently read the equally absorbing book by Jeffrey Satinover titled Cracking the Bible Code, a scholarly work that explores layers of meaning encrypted in the language and Hebrew letters of the five books of Moses. I assume that these hidden codes occur right across In The Day (J) as well as the other aforementioned sources, in other words, cohesively through the final text. This is most intriguing and a matter that really ought to be investigated further.
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The Hidden Book in the Bible by Richard Elliott Friedman
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