This Book, like the other four books in the Myths, Metaphors, and Modern Meanings series, will make the “Five Books of Moses” (also known as the “Torah”) more accessible to those of us who, as contemporary thinkers, find that its stories challenge our sense of reason (e.g., are we to believe that Abraham was willing to sacrifice his son?) and makes us uneasy (e.g., is Leviticus 26:29 really saying that we will “eat the flesh of your sons and daughters” if we disobey the commandments?). Rather than assume that the biblical stories depict historically accurate happenings, my books regard each story as a symbolic work in which the characters and events are best understood as representing deeper meanings.
I organize my commentary around hundreds of open-ended questions. For example, Sarah is just one of many women in the Torah who are said to struggle with being barren; what might this recurring theme mean? Was Moses a murderer (after all, we are told that he killed an Egyptian task master) and why is he not mentioned in the Haggada? What is the relationship between the Ten Plagues and the Ten Commandments? When the Torah calls for the extermination of the Amalekites, is it condoning genocide? And, why does God’s name sometimes appear in as a plural noun and other times conjugated as a verb? By addressing these and other such questions, readers will discover new ways to read, question, and appreciate the stories. The book’s format is also well-suited as a guide for teaching basic courses on any of the Torah’s five books.
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