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The book of J by David Rosenberg

The book of J (1990)

by David Rosenberg (Translator), Harold Bloom (Commentary & introduction), Harold Bloom, David Rosenberg

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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Showing 1-5 of 7 (next | show all)
I got hold of a copy of The book of J by Rosenberg and Bloom. I am disappointed and it provoked these thoughts:
- Bloom accepts the Document Hypothesis as plain truth. He writes a little bit about the development of the early part but never argues it. He doesn't even seem to know that there are other scholars who showed that all arguments which Wellhausen put forward did not stand the test on the Hebrew text.
- Bloom accepts Rosenbergs choice of the verses which should belong to J as truth. There were other scholars who included or excluded different verses to J (Gerhard von Rad, Sigmund Mowinckel, Emil Gottlieb Heinrich Kraeling, to name a few, had made out different parts which belonged to J, or E, or P, or M, or R). Bloom argues his case for choosing not on the basis of the Hebrew text but on the basis of the English paraphrase (it is not a translation) by Rosenberg.
- He blunders with his knowledge of Hebrew: In the story about the tower of Babel, he finds three times the word 'unbound' and 'boundary' - but only once the word bt͡sr is in the Hebrew text. Rosenberg paraphrased: 29 (p. 73) ..."we can build a city and tower, ... without a name we're unbound .... " ... "They conceive this between them, and it leads up until no boundary exists..." ... the city there became unbound."
Both words 'unbound' are not in the Hebrew text. A translation would read: Genesis 11,4 ... let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth, v. 6 ... And nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them (be impossible = restraint = bound), v. 9 .. from there the Lord scattered them abroad over the face of the whole earth."
Robert Alter wrote in Commentary 1990: Such comments as these by Bloom on Rosenberg lead me to the reluctant conclusion that Bloom could not possibly be reading the Bible in the original. He does have enough Hebrew to consult lexicons, not always with great profit, and at one point he provides a translation of his own, which I assume he must have done by looking at existing Englsh versions with some inspection of the Hebrew."
- Bloom accepts the words of J as fiction, not as truth.
He doesn't bring any facts for his assumptions that J should be a woman from Solomon's court writing at that time, using ironic as her instrument of literature. He presupposes so many uncertain hypothesis that the outcome can not be more than another hypothesis based on Bloom's 'insights', not more. Not what J wrote is fiction, but what Bloom thought up is fiction. ( )
  paulstalder | Feb 24, 2017 |
Here’s another of my favorites, published back in 1990. If you haven’t read it yet, it’s a must read, for the sheer pleasure of it.

Most scholars now accept that the Torah was written by at least four different authors. The first strand of Genesis, Exodus and Numbers was written by an author that scholars call “J,” who lived in the tenth century BC. This is your chance to read J’s story as it was written, extracted and reassembled from the Bible. Bloom admires J on the level of Homer, Shakespeare, and Tolstoy, and wonders if J wasn’t a woman. J’s story abounds in unforgettable characters and subtle irony, including a God (Yahweh) whose personality is unmatched by any later writers.

In the first half of the book, the text of J is translated brilliantly by Rosenberg, who brings the scripture to life. Then, Bloom takes the reins and provides commentary in the second half. If you have never read any of Bloom’s writings, you’re in for a treat. Wry and fresh, Bloom is one of my favorite authors.

J, as Bloom points out multiple times, is no moralist. Sin is not one of J’s concepts, but contempt is. Irony is. J will stoop to puns and rise to heroism if it helps portray her characters. You’ll forget you’re reading the Bible as you get lost in the storytelling, I promise. I can’t think of enough good adjectives to describe this one. ( )
1 vote DubiousDisciple | May 26, 2011 |
Rosenberg's translation of the Yahwist texts is eminently readable; this is the first time I've read biblical source material and found it to both be a good, compelling read and a cohesive, sensible story. This would net four- or five-stars, but Bloom's analysis is dry, rambling, repetitive. He immediately asserts that his image of "J" (author of the Yahwist texts) is a fiction, but that fiction isn't very well defended. Plus, the essay style isn't wholly effective: after reading the core text in a day, I had to keep referring back to it to figure out what Bloom was talking about. I think this would have worked better as an annotated text. ( )
  PhoebeReading | Nov 24, 2010 |
A worthy attempt to look at part of the early Bible as a literary, as opposed to a religious, work. However, it depends a bit too much on Bloom's evocation of his authority as a critic to assert that it's a work of literary genius, rather than depending on his ability to let us see what he does. Mostly, it uses the standard device that critics use when they trust an author; any apparent infelicities become evidence of irony rather than actual problems. Still, useful as a way to jolt some newness into this text. ( )
  rpuchalsky | Jul 6, 2008 |
Regardless of how one feels about the revelatory truth of the first few stories of the Bible, it is clear to everyone that oral tradition long predated the written text. Modern scholarship seems to point to one "author" coded as J who assembled the first five books (Pentateuch) into a form most similar to the current one. In this book, Bloom analyzes the core story of these books as a literary creation, with J an author with a slant to convey and a background of--he posits--her own to help mold how the events of the text are presented. There can be no simple journalistic reporting of the legends without a human bias, and Bloom seeks to explore the nature and origins of that bias. A fascinating read, even if I don't have the background to judge the worth of his scholarship.
  caffron | Jul 13, 2007 |
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» Add other authors (2 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Rosenberg, DavidTranslatorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Bloom, HaroldCommentary & introductionmain authorall editionsconfirmed
Bloom, Haroldmain authorall editionsconfirmed
Rosenberg, Davidmain authorall editionsconfirmed
Saba Sardi, FrancescoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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In Jerusalem, nearly three thousand years ago, na unknown author composed a work that has formed the spiritual consciousness of much of the world ever since.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0802110509, Hardcover)

A controversial national best seller upon its initial publication, The Book of J is an audacious work of literary restoration revealing one of the great narratives of all time and unveiling its mysterious author. J is the title that scholars ascribe to the nameless writer they believe is responsible for the text, written between 950 and 900 BCE, on which Genesis, Exodus, and Numbers is based. In The Book of J, accompanying David Rosenberg's translation, Harold Bloom persuasively argues that J was a woman—very likely a woman of the royal house at King Solomon's court—and a writer of the stature of Homer, Shakespeare, and Tolstoy. Rosenberg's translations from the Hebrew bring J's stories to life and reveal her towering originality and grasp of humanity. Bloom argues in several essays that "J" was not a religious writer but a fierce ironist. He also offers historical context, a discussion of the theory of how the different texts came together to create the Bible, and translation notes.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:13:52 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

Translation by D. Rosenberg of the portions of the Pentateuch which derive from the so-called J document, with introd. and commentary by H. Bloom.

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