Daniel and Tonya tagged me in the recent book meme that is making the rounds:
Name 5 books or scholars that had the most immediate and lasting influence on how you read the Bible.
In no particular order:
1. Mark Smith’s (peer-less) work on the Baal Cycle introduced me to the world of Ugaritic and all it has to offer (I would gratefully accept a gift of his latest book, since I cannot afford the $300+ pricetag) . His books (such as The Early History of God) piqued my appetite to understand the cultures surrounding ancient Israel and the text of Scripture.
2. Christo van der Merwe’s A Biblical Hebrew Reference Grammar. This book gave me a good foundation and also challenged me to think through the description of BH grammar by looking at the data myself.
3. The Art of Biblical Narrative (Robert Alter) and Narrative Art in the Bible (Shimon Bar-Efrat). I know, I’m cheating to list two here, but they both helped move me from an atomistic reading of Scripture and lifted my head up to see the discourse level and the art of Hebrew story-telling.
4. Sinai & Zion: An Entry into the Jewish Bible (Jon D. Levenson): “[M]yth does not mean ‘untruth’ or ‘falsehood,’ in spite of such usage in ordinary discourse. One should not allow this pejorative use of the word to prejudice oneself against the Aristotelian position that poetry is truer than history. One implication of this discussion will be that mythopoesis, ‘ the making of myth,’ is a means by which man discerns and conveys truths otherwise inexpressible. If this implication is correct, then the familiar interpretation of the religion of Israel as radically demythologized, besides being factually inaccurate, obscures great spiritual treasures” (104-105). That’s just one gem.
5. John Hobbins: his blog Ancient Hebrew Poetry continues to educate me, inspire me, challenge me, and give me cause to debate. He lives his life as husband, father, pastor, and scholar in a way that resonates with my own priorities.