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The Ladder of Jacob:
Ancient Interpretations of the Biblical Story of Jacob and His Children
James L. Kugel

Book Description | Table of Contents
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"Highly recommended. . . . James L. Kugel persuasively argues that ancient interpreters did more than simply apologize for the less-than-illustrious behavior of certain biblical figures . . . by demonstrating how exegetical motifs arise from some quirk in scripture. . . . Kugel has written a book that is obviously important for specialists (it will certainly be instrumental in reevaluating the history of the Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs), but he is so remarkably adept at making opaque materials accessible to nonspecialists that both novices and the initiated will read his latest work with evident relish."--Choice

"James an expert in the history of biblical interpretation and well equipped to write a book that gives the reader an introduction to and explanation of the ancient exegesis of the particular text from Genesis under discussion in this book.... [It] can be recommended for every one interested in the development of certain biblical traditions, but especially for those interested in the way ancient interpreters treated biblical texts."--S I Cronje, Verbum et Ecclesia

"[Kugel]...takes half a dozen Biblical stories--Jacob's career, his heavenly ladder, the rape of Dinah, Reuben's dalliance with Bilhah, Levi's elevation to priesthood, Judah's victimization of Tamar--and invites the reader to accompany him in a survey of ancient Biblical commentaries which range far beyond the well known canonical literature...James Kugel has presented the reader with a dazzling array of Midrashic and other texts which testify to the extraordinary vitality of the rabbinic mind and its successors in unpackaging the hidden meanings in the Hebrew Bible."--Arnold Ages, Chicago Jewish Star

"[Kugel] masterfully reveals why mishnaic, rabbinic, and targumic commentaries make the moves they do by analytically assessing the how and the why in each step. In this sense what Kugel does, helps the most rigid historical-critical exegetes . . . become more alert to the intricacies of the literary-syntactical elements--particularly the cruxes--and also become more appreciative of the artistic aspects of ancient allegorical methods."--Craig D. Bowman, Book Reviews and Notes

"Kugel . . . most elegantly and convincingly explores how . . . early interpreters conceived of the Bible and of their hermeneutical task. . . . This book--and Kugel's major oeuvre of recuperating early exegesis--is an important, fascinating, and often brilliant endeavor."--Ronald Hendel, Interpretation

"I can certainly recommend Kugel's book as yet another masterpiece of the history of interpretation. It should serve as a guide for others attempting to do so, as well as a wonderful sourcebook for those working on Genesis."--Dan Clanton, Journal of Hebrew Scriptures

"All in all a fascinating and valuable contribution to the history of interpretation."--R. Tomes, Society for Old Testament Studies


"James Kugel is the expert in the history of biblical interpretation, and he offers a great introduction to and explanation of ancient exegesis of these parts of Genesis."--James VanderKam, University of Notre Dame

"A wonderful book. The chapters follow their subjects detail by detail with a kind of masterfully unpredictable logic, almost like a detective story."--David Stern, University of Pennsylvania

"James Kugel fuses immense learning with a poignant (yet wary) nostalgia for what he has called 'the God of old'. The Ladder of Jacob could be read side-by-side with Thomas Mann's Joseph tetralogy. Kugel, like Mann, belongs to authentic cultures now vanished or vanishing. Both novelist and scholar temper their ironies with wisdom and a sense of justice."--Harold Bloom, author of Jesus and Yahweh and Where Shall Wisdom Be Found?

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File created: 4/21/2017

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