Book Reviews -- By: Anonymous
JETS 57:2 (June 2014) p. 405
Tanak: A Theological and Critical Introduction to the Jewish Bible. By Marvin A. Sweeney. Minneapolis: Fortress,
In Tanak: A Theological and Critical Introduction to the Jewish Bible, Marvin A. Sweeney (Professor of Hebrew Bible at Claremont School of Theology) “proposes a systematic critical and theological study of the Jewish Bible” (p. 4).
Part I, “Introduction,” provides the methodological foundation for the book. Sweeney clearly states his approach to reading the Hebrew Bible. First, it is critical in that he “draws heavily on modern critical study of the Bible” (p. 4). Second, it is theological in that “it attempts to discern the theological viewpoints articulated by the biblical texts…[and] it includes dialogue with the Jewish tradition at large” (p. 4).
After surveying Jewish and Christian approaches to biblical theology, Sweeney contends that “the task of a Jewish biblical theology cannot be the same as that of…a Christian biblical theology” (p. 20). He argues that a distinctively Jewish biblical theology should include several key elements: adherence to the tripartite structure of the Tanak; interpretation of the Tanak in relation to the entirety of Jewish tradition; attention to the entirety of the Tanak rather than privileging certain portions over others; and recognition of the dialogical character of the Tanak as expressed through intertextuality. A Jewish biblical theology, therefore, engages the Tanak firsthand with respect to both synchronic and diachronic dimensions but also establishes an ongoing dialogue concerning God, the Jewish people, and the rest of the world.
Parts II through IV discuss the content proper of the Hebrew Bible. In keeping with his goal to produce an introduction to the Jewish Bible, Sweeney follows the order of the Jewish canon rather than the Christian canon. His discussion of each canonical division begins with a brief overview of the division followed by a detailed précis of each of the biblical books and their individual literary units.
Part II summarizes the content of Torah. Sweeney contends that the Torah is concerned with articulating the ideal relationship between God and the Jewish people within the context of God’s creation. The Torah expresses this primarily through divine instruction, whether in the form of a metanarrative of Israel’s origins (e.g. the account of the exodus) or in the form of law (e.g. the Decalogue).
In Parts IIIA, “The Former Prophets,” and IIIB, “The Latter Prophets,” Sweeney surveys the contents of the Prophets (Neviˀim). According to Sweeney, both the Former and Latter Prophets articula...
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