Biblical and Rabbinic Literature

Article excerpt

Biblical and Rabbinic Literature

David: Biblical Portraits of Power, by Marti J. Steussy. Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1998. 251 pp. ISBN 1-57003-250-5.

This volume, written for the nonspecialist, explores the Hebrew Bible's three major portraits of David -- found in 1 and 2 Samuel, 1 Chronicles, and Psalms -- and what each implies about the relation between divine and worldly power.

David: Power, Lust and Betrayal in Biblical Times, by Jerry M. Landay. Berkeley: Seastone, 1998. 192 pp. ISBN 1-56975-159-5.

A recounting of the fate of Israel's most famous king, David is the story of a man of ambition, complexity, talent, and human frailty. This sketch of David emphasizes his humanity, rather than being either a political chronicle or a testimony to a mythic figure.

Ethics and the Old Testament, by John Barton. Valley Forge, PA: Trinity Press International, 1998. 112 pp. ISBN 1-56338-234-2.

John Barton shows that Old Testament ethical ideas are complex but unified to some extent. He uses the specifics of laws and rules and precepts, as well as narratives and stories, as illustrative of the Old Testament's moral program.

Eve and Adam: Jewish, Christian, and Muslim Readings on Genesis and Gender, edited by Kristen E. Kvam, Linda S. Schearing, and Valarie H. Ziegler. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1999. pp. ISBN 0-253-33490-X (c); 0-253-21271-5 (p).

These chapters offer a history of the interpretation of Genesis 1-3. Included are nearly 100 selections, from passages from the Apocrypha and Pseudepigraph, to excerpts from the Qur'an and medieval Jewish commentaries, selections from St. Thomas Aquinas and other later figures, representative texts from the Protestant Reformation, and three commentaries written especially for this volume. Another section focuses on nineteenth-century America, with the antebellum debate on slavery, the struggle for women's equality, and new religious movements such as the Shakers and Christian Science. The book ends with twentieth-century texts from all three religious traditions. …