Bernhard Lang, known for his contributions over several decades to biblical anthropology, offers in this volume a selection of essays on the life and literature of the ancient Hebrews. The subjects range from the Hebrew God, the world-view of the Bible, and the formation of the scriptural canon, to peasant poverty, women's work, the good life, and prophetic street theatre. The stories of Joseph, Samson, and the expulsion from Paradise are analysed, and in a departure from the Old Testament, the priestly origins of the Eucharist are considered. Insight into the Hebrew mentality is facilitated by the arrangement of the essays, reflecting the three strata of the ancient society: the peasants, with their common concerns of fertility and happiness; warriors, their martial pursuits, and the divine Lord of War; and the wise - prophets, priests, and sages.
’I would strongly urge those engaged in teaching the Old Testament - particularly those in search of new ways of looking at old problems - to seek out a copy and reflect on it.’ Theological Book Review
Contents: Preface; Part 1 Introduction: Biblical studies as a vocation: sketch of an academic self-portrait; The Hebrew God: a very short summary. Part 2 Wealth, Fertility, and the Good Life - The 3rd Function: God and the good life; Peasant poverty: rent capitalism in the days of Amos; Women's work, household and property in 3 Mediterranean societies: a comparative essay on Proverbs 31:10-31; A Zoroastrian prophecy of resurrection: a new reading of Ezekiel 37; Joseph the Diviner: careers of a biblical hero; The forbidden fruit: an ancient myth and its transformation in Genesis 2-3. Part 3 War and Violence - The 2nd Function: The 3 sins of Samson the Warrior; Cosmic battles: 'traditional' and 'utopian' monotheism in biblical times. Part 4 Rules, Wisdom, and Prophetic Arts - The 1st Function: Lady Wisdom: poetry, polytheism, and psychology: a pilgrim's progress; Games prophets play: street theatre and symbolic acts in biblical Israel; The number 10 and the iniquity of the fathers: a new interpretation of the Decalogue; A Hellenistic literary canon in the Hebrew Bible: the 'writings'; The riddle of the Lord's Supper: a new solution; Bibliography; Indexes.