Friday, June 22, 2012

New book: Segal, Sinning in the Hebrew Bible

A NEW BOOK BY ALAN SEGAL is being published posthumously by Columbia University Press:
Columbia University Press is pleased to announce the publication of Sinning in the Hebrew Bible: How the Worst Stories Speak for Its Truth by Alan F. Segal.

"Segal's posthumous book displays in abundance his life-long reputation as a superb teacher. Using the lens of doublets-parallel stories scattered throughout the biblical narrative-Segal guides the reader through the thickets of biblical history and a century of biblical scholarship. This book is an excellent guide for all students who wish to penetrate beneath the surface of the biblical text to discover the events and narratives that shaped our sacred Scriptures."
-Rabbi Burton L. Visotzky, Jewish Theological Seminary, author of Sage Tales: Wisdom and Wonder from the Rabbis of the Talmud

§ Segal taught two of Barnard's most popular courses: "Life After Death" and "Introduction to the Hebrew Bible."
§ Segal introduces readers to key concepts of biblical study in clear easy to understand language
§ Uses the Bible's seedier stories of rape, concubines, and human sacrifice to show what they reveal about the society of the time and why they were important to the narrator
§ Discusses archaeological research to date biblical events
§ Especially useful for church or synagogue study groups that embracing critical readings

Stories of rape, murder, adultery, and conquest raise crucial issues in the Hebrew Bible, and their interpretation helps societies form their religious and moral beliefs. From the sacrifice of Isaac to the adultery of David, narratives of sin engender vivid analysis and debate, powering the myths that form the basis of the religious covenant, or the relationship between a people and their God.

Rereading these stories in their different forms and varying contexts, Alan F. Segal demonstrates the significance of sinning throughout history and today. Drawing on literary and historical theory, as well as research in the social sciences, he explores the motivation for creating sin stories, their prevalence in the Hebrew Bible, and their possible meaning to Israelite readers and listeners. After introducing the basics of his approach and outlining several hermeneutical concepts, Segal conducts seven linked studies of specific narratives, using character and text to clarify problematic terms such as "myth," "typology," and "orality." Following the reappearance and reinterpretation of these narratives in later compositions, he proves their lasting power in the mythology of Israel and the encapsulation of universal, perennially relevant themes. Segal ultimately positions the Hebrew Bible as a foundational moral text and a history book, offering uncommon insights into the dating of biblical events and the intentions of biblical authors.

Alan F. Segal (1945-2011) was professor of religion and Ingeborg Rennert Professor of Jewish Studies at Barnard College, Columbia University. He is the author of a number of books, including Life After Death: A History of the Afterlife in Western Religion, Paul the Convert: The Apostolate and Apostasy of Saul of Pharisee, and Rebecca's Children: Judaism and Christianity in the Roman World.

To view the table of contents, or find out more about this work go to:

If you would like a review copy, please hit reply or e-mail your mailing address.

With best wishes,
Meredith Howard

Meredith Howard
Publicity Director
Columbia University Press
phone: 212-459-0600, ext 7126
fax: 212-459-3677
61 West 62nd St.
New York, NY 10023