xii + 285 pp.
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£50 / $85 / €75
Longing for Egypt and Other Unexpected Biblical Tales
Readers of all persuasions have a tendency to privilege simple interpretations over complex, unsettling, readings. The more fraught the issue, the more often we find in the history of interpretation that a simple reading has been generated that masks its complexity.
'Longing for Egypt and Other Unexpected Biblical Tales' explores seven cases of textual complexity masked by simple readings. One chapter uncovers a counter-intuitive longing for Egypt alongside the Exodus account of liberation from persecution. Another shows how what appears to be a critical attitude in the Bible towards other gods may reflect inner-Israelite tensions rather than some principled antipathy toward others. Yet another confronts the praise of God as a perfect king with the use of the language of divine kingship as a vehicle for constructive criticism.
All seven chapters share a focus on the formation of identity. Arguably the Bible’s most sensitive subject, for its authors and for present-day readers, this topic has generated a host of simple readings that conceal immense complexity.
Diana Lipton is Lecturer in Hebrew Bible and Jewish Studies at King's College, London.
Many surpises and very stimulating. J.E. Tollington, SOTS Book List.
Lipton herself seems to combine deftly the mind of a classical rabbi with
the scholarship of a contemporary academic. She extracts passages from one
end of the Bible to shed light on another (a quintessentially rabbinic activity),
pulling off this trick with compelling evidence for dating said texts to make
such comparisons relevant (the mark of an academic trained in the rigours of
the historical-critical model) and making equally persuasive linguistic
arguments (a hallmark both of the rabbis and the modern academy). Deborah Kahn-Harris, European Judaism.
Longing for Egypt and Other Unexpected Biblical Tales provides a number of fresh, highly suggestive readings of well-known Hebrew narratives and their overarching themes. In particular, the issues of identity and ‘the other’ on which she focuses are important to an understanding of Hebrew Bible narrative. Given both today’s religious-political climate and the fact that ‘identity and “the other” are the topics most likely to generate … simple readings that conceal historical, ideological, textual, psychological, sociological, ethical and theological complexity’, Lipton’s readings are also very timely. Amelia Devin Freedman, Review of Biblical Literature