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Harlot by the Side of the Road

3.83  ·  Rating Details  ·  646 Ratings  ·  80 Reviews
In this brilliant book, Jonathan Kirsch recounts shocking tales that have been suppressed by religious authorities throughout history. Kirsch places each story within the political and social context of its time, delves into the latest biblical scholarship to explain why each was was originally censored. 400 pp. Author appearances.
Hardcover, 378 pages
Published April 15th 1997 by Ballantine Books (first published 1997)
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Skylar Burris
Dec 29, 2007 Skylar Burris rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: judaism, bible
Forbidden Tales is worth reading if you are familiar enough with the Bible to know when you are being mislead and discerning enough to take away from it what few diamonds you can; at the very least, it is entertaining, easy reading. Although Kirch makes some good points and tells some interesting stories, at times his scholarship appears somewhat sloppy and his thesis somewhat suspect.

Kirsch explores those tales of the Bible that do not generally make it into the sermon illustrations of the ave
Fahima Jaffar
البحثُ مفيد لمن لم يطّلع على هذه الحكايا من قبل، لكنه لا يتجاوز عرضَها للقارئ وكأنها "كفشات" من النوع الذي تنشره صحف التابلويد. وكأن المؤلف يتلذذ باستعراض هذه الحكايا - أو اكتشافها ! - دونَ أن يتعمق في دراسة بنية التوراة.

رغم أن الكاتب يدّعي نزعَ القدسيّة عن التوراة، إلا أن بحثه يعزز هذه القدسية.
ذلك أنه يتجاوز عن إشكاليةٍ كبيرةٍ يطرحها الكتاب: كيف نقرأ التوراة؟

هل نقرؤها كأسطورة؟ إذن تفقدُ تلك "الحكايا المحرمة" لبوسها القدسيّ، لتستدعيَ قراءةً ميثولوجيةً وأنثروبولجيّةٍ للنصّ، لا محاكمةً أخلاقيةً كا
Jewel K
Jan 24, 2010 Jewel K rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
قصص لطالما كانت بين صفحات التوراة لكن السلطات الدينيه
كتمتها بقوه طوال التاريخ لانها قصص صادمه .. فاضحه عنيفه
غير مقبوله !!
هل لديك فضول لتعلم كيف ينظر اليهود الى الرب
والى الرسل !! أقرأ الكتاب بشرط ( الثقافه الدينيه العاليه
وان تكون فوق 20 سنه )
Moka Chan

*هذا مش ريڤيوو*!!
حش في الكتاب :)

بدأت قراءة هذا الكتاب كنوع من الترفيه..
أظنني الآن عرفت قيمة كتب الإثارة الرخيصة... -برغم أن المحتوى ليس رخيصا
لكن الفكرة نفسها..
فكرة الممنوع.. المبتذل والمخبئ لسنين!

دائما عندما أحاول تشجيع شخص ما على القراءة
فإنني غالبا ماأبحث عن كتاب مثير -مراعية الفئة العمرية والخلفية الدينية والإجتماعية له-
لاأريد أن ينتهي به الأمر إلى النفور من الكتب والقراءة
كثير من الأشخاص الذين حرضتهم على القراءة لم يقرأوا كتابا آخر -غير الذي قرأوه بتحريض مني-
تظنون أنني أعتبر هذا فشلا!؟
Michael Fishman
May 06, 2015 Michael Fishman rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was nothing breakthrough for me. But it most certainly was entertaining.

The book begins with the author discussing when he tried taking out the story of Noah and reading it to his children. He figured it was a nice Sunday school friendly story. But then he got to the end--the part where Noah got shitfaced and, eh, shamed by his middle son Ham. Whoa, he didn't see that coming.

I learned that story is second grade. Yes, my second grade teacher taught me about Noah getting drunk and parade
Apr 24, 2009 NoraH rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
قرأته منذ سنتين تقريباً
رأي لن يكون عن القصص التي وردت فهي بكل تأكيد لن تخلوا من التحريف
والتجاوزات في حق أنبيائنا عليهم السلام
لكن الترجمه كانت ممتازه جداً هذا الشيء الوحيد الذي شفع لها
ودفعني لاكماله حتى النهايه
Jul 30, 2014 Ted rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: home
Really brilliant book.

At first, I thought differently. Since I already know most of the stories, I found them to be fairly obvious, but that would not be true for someone not completely familiar with them. But what really got me were the commentaries in the subsequent chapters. So I skipped the retellings of the stories I know well and focused on the commentary. But the two stories from Judges that I wasn't as familiar with were expertly told and engaging.

At times, Kirsch strains credulity wit
Here are stories ripped from the Bible: the naughty bits, including the scandalous stories about wayward women, desperate damsels and loose girls. Here are stories about the women who didn’t get names because they were meant as what? Cautionary examples? Figures of shame? Secret objects of pride and joy?

I like reading the Bible for these hidden tales, the ones that show the Bible is a HUMAN story not merely one about an omnipotent, omniscient and kindly (?) God. By fleshing out the often missin
Gamal Hasan
هذا الكتاب للأسف لم اكمله، لأنني شخص ارتكب اكبر الفظائع بالكتب، وهي خسارة الكثير منها. كنت مازلت في منتصفه بالتأكيد سأضطر لقراءته في وقت آخر عبر البي دي اف. اي وهو امر مرهق للعين. في الحقيقة بدا لي كتاب ممتع، و.
Kathleen Dixon
I really like the way Kirsch has fleshed out the stories that he is looking at in this book. The Bible doesn't waste any time looking at the emotional impact of anything, nor on the reasons people do what they do. Kirsch has done an excellent job of making sense of certain completely nonsensical texts. He does a fine job, as well, of setting the context. And he shows how the "God" that is portrayed throughout the Bible is very clearly a construct of the authors. Mind you, we all know that we hav ...more
Coleen Dailey
Jun 10, 2012 Coleen Dailey rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed this book. It discusses many stories that are not emphasized in everyday church lessons - and provides some alternative reasons for why these stories may have been written as they were. A good read for anyone but particularly someone interested in Bible stories and their origins.
Jan 25, 2015 Amy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I had to read this book slowly because it is rather heavy and required a lot of thought and consideration. There are a lot of different ideas presented explaining the Biblical tales and to be honest I do not always accept the author's explanations but I believe he comes to them through logic and learning. And I believe the author invites you to determine whether to accept explanations offered or not or even suspend judgement, I appreciate that the author invites one to explore further. I love hi ...more
Nojood Alsudairi
كنت هناك مع ابنتي و كنتِ هناك لتشتري كتب لمجموعتك. وشاء الله أن نلتقي و أن ندل بعضنا البعض على كتب لم نكن ننوي أن نشتريها و ننفق نقود لم نكن نريد إنفاقها و صدفة وقعنا على هذا الكتاب. أظن بأنك ستقرأينه قبلي بأرفف
Jan 01, 2015 Malwae rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
If you didn't happen to grow up in a religion that really makes you read the Bible (like, all of it), this is a handy book for summarizing some of the more obscure and morally sketchy episodes, especially from the Old Testament. They are moderately interesting, but are really mostly entertaining as back story when listening to contemporary evangelical political types nattering on about God and family values.

If you did grow up in one of those religions, it looses its shock value, but it still has
Apr 08, 2016 Jacqueline rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I began to read this book for the obvious reason: the titillating exploration of naughty tales in the Torah: the "excuse me, what was that??" blink-and-you-missed-it exploits of Noah dancing naked in his vineyard; Lot's daughters creating children by him; patriarchs having more than one spouse, and more. Shoot, these are just the tip of the iceberg.

I continued enjoying *Harlot...* for more reasons: this book is now the text of my class on the topic, "The Bible Tells me No?!? Unbiblical behavior
Althea Ann
Sep 26, 2013 Althea Ann rated it really liked it
Since I had just finished reading a fictional retelling of the story of the Biblical Dinah, I thought I'd move on to this book, which had been sitting on my shelf for a while. This book briefly retells a few of the more "scandalous" stories from the Bible (those involving rape, incest, murder, & such). The retellings are printed alongside the actual text of the original stories. Then, the author talks (at length) about the different possible translations and interpretations of these events, ...more
David Sarkies
May 30, 2015 David Sarkies rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Nobody really
Recommended to David by: I saw it in a bookshop
Shelves: christian
A case study in taking the Bible out of context
20 November 2010

This is one of those so called scholarly works where the author approaches his thesis with preconceived ideas and prejudices and gets it completely wrong. It seems to also be one of these books where the author's intent is to deliberately undermine the authenticity of the Bible and the Christianity that Jesus taught by using his preconceived ideas (and modern biblical scholarship, normally performed by people who do not consider the
Monica Lee
May 17, 2013 Monica Lee rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
These are Bible stories you'll rarely hear on Sunday mornings in church -- stories of incest, rape, mutilation and seduction.

Author Jonathan Kirsch tackles some of those rarely studied stories in "The Harlot by the Side of the Road: Forbidden Tales of the Bible."

Says Kirsch in his opening: "The stories that are retold here will come as a surprise to many readers precisely because, over the centuries, they have been suppressed by rabbis, priests and ministers uncomfortable with the candor of the
دايس محمد
هذه إحدى القصص الواردة في الكتاب ، قصة يفتاح و ابنته سيلا !

و كان يفتاح وحيدا ً بلا أم .. رأى أمه لمرة ٍ واحدة ٍ من بعيد و هي تمد يديها للمارة تمارس التسول بعد أن كانت كما قيل له ..: " عاهرة " .. لم يتبين ملامحها .. فظلمه أبوه و هو حي .. و ظلمه أخوته من أبيه و أمهم بعد موته .. و ظلمه قضاة بني إسرائيل .. ظلمه الرجال ذوو اللحى الفضية .!
هرب .. تزوج و أنجب فتاة ً وحيدة ً اسمها " سيلا " لا أحد يعرف عن أمها شيئا ً .. كوّن عصابة ً فأصبح قاتلا ً مأجورا ً و زعيم عصابة يغير على كل من راق له الإغارة عليه .
Feb 06, 2011 Bruce rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: religious fundamentalists
If one has not read the bible this book might entice one to read it or at least portions thereof. The author has written short stories based on biblical text and places the biblical text in boxes once can read as one reads the short story. However that is only part of the book. The author then provides an analysis of the story and places it in context of the times while comparing it to other stories in the bible. These stories are those that "have been censored, banned, mistranslated or simply i ...more
Dec 24, 2007 Adam rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
From Library Journal
Kirsch, an attorney and book critic, retells some of the juicier stories of the Bible in contemporary language. He expands upon the original biblical text to make the stories highly readable and includes with each the original text in modern translation and a brief sketch of the scholarly research and the speculation surrounding it. For those to whom Bible stories suggest "Disneyesque animals and simple uplifting moral lessons," this book may be a bit of a shock. Kirsch shows
Mar 29, 2015 Benjamin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Ex-Chrisitans, Anyone who wants better insight into the darker corners of the OT.
Well written for anyone who wants to get a glimpse at the dark underbelly of the Christian faith. These are the stories that you either don't hear in Sunday School, or the ones that are heavily bowdlerized, cheery-picked, and glossed over. All of the verses mentioned are clearly stated, and quoted verbatim with some of the translation choices and subtle omissions gleefully pointed out.

For an ex-Christian this is a relax by the fire with a box of Thin Mints type of book.

Enjoy. I did.
Jun 13, 2016 Mishari rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
يعرض الكاتب الوجه الأكثر مجون و دموية و وحشية للكتب الدينية لا أخفي أنني شعرت ببعض المتعة أثناء قراءة الكتاب خصوصاً أنها وصمت بكلمة ممنوع و محرم ، قصص التوراة تشبه إلى حد ما روايات الجنس و الإثارة الرخيصة ، بل تتعدها هذه الروايات بجودة المحتوى !
ألوم مؤلفي التوراة على هذا الخيال الساذج و الترقيع الفاشل

هذا الكتاب قد يكشف لك كيف يرى الإسرائيليين الرب ، النساء ، الملوك ، الأنبياء و إلخ ...
و قد يكون الكتاب مرجع لمعرفة أفكار و ثقافة و بنية الإسرائيلين
مرجع تاريخي ثقافي مهم كبداية
Jun 16, 2015 Jocelyn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
I really enjoyed reading this book. I found Kirsch's writing style to be polished and enjoyable to read, and his analysis was insightful. I loved the blend of stories told in a strongly fictional voice and commentary chapters in a more scholarly voice. The overall message that he drove home in the last chapter really struck me and left me thinking about these stories' place in modern society.
Oct 11, 2014 A. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
While I have long been familiar with all of the stories (largely because I spent my endless hours in church as a child reading the Bible instead of listening to the sermon), I was much more intrigued by the exegeses at the end of each story, rather than the stories themselves (though they were enjoyable too). Going to thoroughly enjoy going through the recommended reading sources.
Apr 07, 2015 Igor rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
For an attempt to explain "forbidden tales" of the Bible, it is a good work. The author could have however put more effort into explanations than into his retellings which do more harm than good to this book. Other than that, it's a good introduction to the more troubling fragments of the Hebrew Bible.
Brad Pendleton
Mar 15, 2016 Brad Pendleton rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
So many of us 'religious types' think of the bible as a sterile environment - safe reading for the righteous minded. This book dashes that notion from the beginning and reminds the reader how raw the Judeo-Christian world can be.
Mar 21, 2013 Paula rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Paula by: The Rev Houston Hall
Shelves: christianity
Our church is using this text for a book study. Quite a different take on most people's traditional view of the Old Testament. Reminds me a lot of Liz Curtis Higgs Bad Girls of the Bible. Most people do not really realize that the Bible is filled with very human stories, and sometimes to our modern eye, very barbaric and shocking tales. This book conveys that God takes very flawed people, including and maybe especially the matriarchs and patriarchs, and uses them for God's loving purposes.

I esp
Jan 09, 2015 Mark rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I would have liked this book more if I'd read it prior to/concurrently with the Bible, rather than after. The book goes over several of the more troubling and shocking biblical stories (the kind that elicit 'is that in the Bible?'). I'd already been troubled and shocked by all of them though.

The book covers 16 of the strangest stories. Each chapter opens with the author's modernized retelling of the story followed by dense and thoroughly researched exegesis spanning several different lines of sc
Aug 27, 2014 Zac rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Pretty interesting stuff, and well written. There is some truly abhorrent behaviour in the old testament, and even when the stories don't direct involve genocide, rape and incest they certainly clash with the modern compassionate conception of Christianity.
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