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Exploring Exodus: The Origins of Biblical…

Exploring Exodus: The Origins of Biblical Israel

by Nahum M. Sarna

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I enjoyed it and learned a lot. Used it for leading a discussion on the weekly Torah portion.

Some quotes I thought significant:

In the meantime, by utilizing a few items of indirect evidence we may conclude that the cumulative effect of several lines of approach favors a thirteenth-century B.C.E. dating for the Exodus. [p. 9]

In the Biblical view, society as a corporate entity cannot evade responsibility for the follies and evils committed in its name, and it cannot escape the consequences thereof. [p.68]

It is worthy of note that a similar kind of literary symmetry and schematized arrangement is employed in the Genesis Creation story and in the opening prose narrative of the Book of Job. In the former, the creative process is laid out as a systematic progression from chaos to cosmos through a series of six successive units of time culminating in a climactic seventh that pertains solely to God.... [p. 77; see his table on pl 76 of The Literary Structure of the Plagues Narrarive.]

Although the celebration of a festival at this season was quite common in the Near East, the Israelite version belongs to a wholly different category from its contemporaries in that the New Year is now grounded neither in nature's renewal nor in mythology,such as an event in the life of a god, but in a historic event---the liberation of a people from national oppression. Such a revolutionary phenomenon is without analogy in the ancient world. [p. 85]

The account of the instructions for building the Tabernacle closes, in Exodus 31:18, with the statement that God "gave Moses the two tablets of the Pact, stone tablets inscribed with the finger of God." This verse forms the connective with and the transition to the episode of the Golden Calf, which led Moses to smash the tablets in response to the apsotasy of the people. It is important to note this because it demonstrates that the Book of Exodus had been deliberately structured so as to place that event between the two part of the Tabernacle narratice---the instructions (Chapters 25 - 31) and their implementation (Chapters 35 - 40). 137 [p. 215] ( )
  raizel | Jun 30, 2013 |
This is a commentary on the book of Exodus by the Jewish scholar, Nahum M. Sarna, . Each chapter deals with large literary units rather than the typical verse by verse exegesis. His focuses mostly on historical and cultural backgrounds to the narrative's setting drawing upon a broad knowledge of the ancient Near East. In fact, this was the book's strength. You won't find raw theology here nor will you be left with simple historiography but rather what Sarna calls historiosophy. This would make a great companion volume to a more technical commentary like the one written by Carol Meyers (a former student of Sarna) found in the excellent New Cambridge series. ( )
  adamtarn | May 26, 2009 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0805210636, Paperback)

Sarna examines the distinctiveness of the Exodus narrative in light of ancient Near Eastern history and contemporaneous cultures--Egyptian, Assyrian, Canaanite, and Babylonian. In a new Foreword to the 1996 edition, Sarna takes up the debate over whether the exodus from Egypt really happened, clarifying the arguments on both sides and drawing us back to the uniqueness and enduring significance of biblical text.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:15:43 -0400)

The author takes on the debate over whether the Exodus from Egypt really happened, clarifying the arguments on both sides and drawing us back to the uniqueness and enduring significance of biblical text.

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