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From Gods to God


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Table of Contents

Translator's Note

Introduction: When God Fought the Sea DragonsPart 1. The World of Myth
1. Eden's Winged Serpent
2. When Gods Seduced Women
3. Moses or God? Who Split the Sea of Reeds?
4. What Is Manna?
5. The Hero Who Stopped the Sun

Part 2. Cult and Sacred Geography
6. The Wandering Gate of Heaven
7. Seeing and Weeping: Managing the Story of a Divine Defeat
8. Where Were Rachel and Jacob Buried?
9. Where in the Wilderness Did Israel Receive the Torah?
10. Some More Reasons for Eating Matzah
11. Was Worshiping the Golden Calf a Sin?
12. Where Was the Law Given? In the Wilderness or in the Land of Israel?
13. When and How Was the City of Dan Sanctified?

Part 3. Biblical Heroes and Their Biographies
14. What Did Ham Do to His Father?
15. Out of the Fire: Recovering the Story of Abraham's Origins
16. The Reinterpretation of a Name: Jacob's In Utero Activities
17. Were the Israelites Never in Egypt? A Peculiar Tradition about Ephraim
18. Moses's Most Miraculous Birth
19. Moses's African Romance
20. Moses's Necessary Death
21. Son of God? The Suspicious Story of Samson's Birth
22. A Cinderella Tale: Clues to David's Lost Birth Story
23. Finding the Real Killer of Goliath
24. How a Savior Became a Villain: Jeroboam and the Exodus

Part 4. Relations between Men and Women
25. Sister or Not: Sarah's Adventures with Pharaoh
26. The Story of Rebekah and the Servant on the Road from Haran
27. Reuben, Bilhah, and a Silent Jacob
28. Seduction before Murder: The Case of Jael
29. No Innocent Death: David, Abigail, and Nabal
30. Not Just Riddles: Solomon and the Queen of Sheba
In Closing

Glossary of Extra-Biblical Sources

Promotional Information

Presents myths and legends from a pre-biblical world that the new monotheist order needed to bury, hide, or reinterpret

About the Author

Avigdor Shinan is the Yitzhak Becker Professor of Jewish Studies at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He is the author of numerous books in Hebrew on rabbinic literature, Jewish liturgy, and the Aramaic translations of the Bible. Yair Zakovitch is the Emeritus Father Takeji Otsuki Professor of Bible Studies at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and a professor of Jewish Peoplehood at the Interdisciplinary Center (IDC) Herzliya. He is the author of numerous books in Hebrew on biblical literature and ancient interpretation of the Bible. Valerie Zakovitch is a translator and editor of works in Jewish studies and the humanities.


"Shinan and Zakovitch approach 30 specific Bible stories (e.g., Was Goliath really slain by a young boy named David?) as literary archaeologists, sifting through varying accounts in the biblical texts themselves and examining extrabiblical sources for evidence of alternate versions. Their thoughtful and sympathetic exegesis uncovers possible explanations why the biblical authors saw their interpretations of these stories as best suited to instruct a nation. Most important, they introduce the oral and literary traditions of ancient Israel with breathtaking clarity and ease." Christopher McConnell, Booklist, November 15th 2012 "In this remarkable volume, Avigdor Shinan and Yair Zakovitch have channeled their prodigious learning into a narrative about the legacy of the Bible that is not only readable but compelling. Anyone who loves the Bible and the interpretive challenges it has bequeathed generations of readers will enjoy the encounter with these two illustrious commentators." Gary A. Anderson, Hesburgh Professor of Catholic Theology, University of Notre Dame

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