Radio Show Yields Surprise Bestseller

By Anthony Weiss

Published February 10, 2006, issue of February 10, 2006.
  • Print
  • Share Share

The Jewish Publication Society, publisher of such sober scholarship as “The JPS Torah Commentary” series and “Studies in Modern Theology and Prayer,” has scored a surprise best seller by going back to basics with Marc Zvi Brettler’s “How To Read the Bible.” Brettler recently appeared on National Public Radio’s interview show “Fresh Air,” and his book subsequently shot up to number 48 on Amazon’s best-seller list.

Brettler chairs Brandeis University’s department of Near Eastern and Judaic studies. In his book he tries to understand the Bible from the perspective of the Ancient Hebrews. Interestingly, Brettler’s emphasis on historical context has led him to novel perspectives on a number of contemporary issues.

“It’s not so clear that the Bible supports creationism,” he told the Forward. “It’s not so clear that the Ten Commandments, as they’re often called, should be displayed in public.”

Eschewing the literalist approach, Brettler does not assume that the Bible is internally consistent. “The Bible is fundamentally an anthology and is multi-perspectival,” he told the Forward.

Though he did not write the book as an argument, implicit in his approach is a respect for a diversity of viewpoints.

“One sentence that I really dislike,” he said, “is when people say, ‘The Bible says.’ Because the Bible says a lot of things.”






Find us on Facebook!
  • "Despite the great pain and sadness surrounding a captured soldier, this should not shape the face of this particular conflict – not in making concessions and not in negotiations, not in sobering assessments of this operation’s achievements or the need to either retreat or move forward." Do you agree?
  • Why genocide is always wrong, period. And the fact that some are talking about it shows just how much damage the war in Gaza has already done.
  • Construction workers found a 75-year-old deli sign behind a closing Harlem bodega earlier this month. Should it be preserved?
  • "The painful irony in Israel’s current dilemma is that it has been here before." Read J.J. Goldberg's latest analysis of the conflict:
  • Law professor Dan Markel waited a shocking 19 minutes for an ambulance as he lay dying after being ambushed in his driveway. Read the stunning 911 transcript as neighbor pleaded for help.
  • Happy birthday to the Boy Who Lived! July 31 marks the day that Harry Potter — and his creator, J.K. Rowling — first entered the world. Harry is a loyal Gryffindorian, a matchless wizard, a native Parseltongue speaker, and…a Jew?
  • "Orwell would side with Israel for building a flourishing democracy, rather than Hamas, which imposed a floundering dictatorship. He would applaud the IDF, which warns civilians before bombing them in a justified war, not Hamas terrorists who cower behind their own civilians, target neighboring civilians, and planned to swarm civilian settlements on the Jewish New Year." Read Gil Troy's response to Daniel May's opinion piece:
  • "My dear Penelope, when you accuse Israel of committing 'genocide,' do you actually know what you are talking about?"
  • What's for #Shabbat dinner? Try Molly Yeh's coconut quinoa with dates and nuts. Recipe here:
  • Can animals suffer from PTSD?
  • Is anti-Zionism the new anti-Semitism?
  • "I thought I was the only Jew on a Harley Davidson, but I was wrong." — Gil Paul, member of the Hillel's Angels. http://jd.fo/g4cjH
  • “This is a dangerous region, even for people who don’t live there and say, merely express the mildest of concern about the humanitarian tragedy of civilians who have nothing to do with the warring factions, only to catch a rash of *** (bleeped) from everyone who went to your bar mitzvah! Statute of limitations! Look, a $50 savings bond does not buy you a lifetime of criticism.”
  • That sound you hear? That's your childhood going up in smoke.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.