The God of Old
Inside the Lost World of the Bible
By James L. Kugel
(Free Press, Paperback, 9780743235853, 288pp.)
Publication Date: June 29, 2004
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Our notion of God today -- all-powerful, invisible, and omnipresent -- is not the same as the God of the Hebrew Bible. So who is this "God of Old?" And what is His place in the modern spiritual world?
James Kugel is renowned for his investigations into the history of the biblical era, a time beginning more than three thousand years ago, when the Bible's earliest parts first took shape. With The God of Old, Kugel goes even deeper, attempting to enter the pages of the Old Testament and see God as the Israelites first encountered him.
The God of Old appeared to people unexpectedly; He was not sought out. Often He was not even recognized, at first mistaken for an ordinary human being. The realm of the divine was not as it is today -- a spiritual dimension set off from the material world. The spiritual and the material overlapped, and the realm of the dead was a real domain just beyond the world of the living. Ordinary reality was in constant danger of sliding into something else, something stark but oddly familiar. And God was always standing just behind the curtain of the everyday world.
In this groundbreaking study, Kugel suggests that this alternative spirituality is not simply an archaic relic, replaced by a "better" understanding. Kugel's picture of the God of Old has much to tell us about God's very nature, and about the encounter between Him and human beings in today's world.
A book to treasure side by side with the Bible, The God of Old is sure to engage scholars and spiritual seekers alike for years to come.
James L. Kugel is Starr Professor of Hebrew Literature at Harvard University, and a regular visiting Professor of Biblical Studies at Bar-Ilan University in Israel. He is the author of a number of books of biblical scholarship, including How to Read the Bible (2007), for which he won the National Jewish Book Award for best book, The Great Poems of the Bible (1999), and The Bible As It Was (1997). In 2001, Kugel was awarded the prestigious Grawemeyer Prize in Religion. He lives in Jerusalem, Israel, and in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
"A masterful survey of the way ancient Israelites understood God....In glimmering prose, Kugel leads us on a mesmerizing tour of the differences between early and modern conceptions of God."
"Kugel is one of the world's foremost Bible scholars."
"The lectures...are as clear as water, explaining themselves effortlessly as they go."