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The Book Of J

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3.73 of 5 stars 3.73  ·  rating details  ·  426 ratings  ·  36 reviews
J is the title that scholars ascribe to the nameless writer they believe is responsible for the text, written between 950 & 900, on which Genesis, Exodus & Numbers is based. In The Book of J, Bloom & Rosenberg draw the J text out of the surrounding material & present it as the seminal classic it is. In addition to Rosenberg's original translations, Bloom ar ...more
Published (first published January 1988)
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B. Hawk
In my estimation, the central premises of The Book of J would have been better off written as a novel than in the form that Bloom presents as scholarly non-fiction. If that were the case, it could have been a compelling, provocative, and fascinating book; yet, as it stands, this book is a subjective, over-wrought, and frustrating speculation on one of the greatest works of Western literature as it might have been.

It is clear that Bloom’s work is meant largely to goad religious traditionalists (e
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Kate
I wish the rating system was out of more stars - I think I'd like 12 or so to better subdivide reviewing into various degrees of liked it/loved it/you should read it.

This book is essentially an essay or dissertation on the authour's idea that the "Yawist" (the original authour of the early parts of the Torah/Bible such as genesis) was a woman of court in the era of Rohoboam (David's grandson) and that she was not a religious scholar, but actually one of the first literary greats. It includes a
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Max Maxwell
Jan 18, 2010 Max Maxwell rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People who want a better, but secular, understanding of Genesis
Recommended to Max by: Just found it at the library
The short version of this review is, "I liked it a lot."

In order to understand the longer version, you'll need to know a bit about the subject matter. Modern biblical criticism holds that the Torah, otherwise known as the Pentateuch, Chumash, or Five Books of Moses, and constituting the first five books of the Hebrew bible, that is (listed here in their Anglicized forms) Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy, weren't really composed by Moses, as Jewish tradition would have it. Rat
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Lee Harmon
Here’s another of my favorites, published back in 1990. If you haven’t read it yet, it’s a must read, for the sheer pleasure of it.

Most scholars now accept that the Torah was written by at least four different authors. The first strand of Genesis, Exodus and Numbers was written by an author that scholars call “J,” who lived in the tenth century BC. This is your chance to read J’s story as it was written, extracted and reassembled from the Bible. Bloom admires J on the level of Homer, Shakespeare
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Alonzo
Bloom shares his interesting ideas about the parts of the Torah/Pentateuch which were written by the Yahwist, whom he calls J. Rosenberg's translations of these parts is amazing; really bringing out the irony that Bloom mentions so often in this book.

Religion doesn't play a part in this project, in fact, Bloom makes the argument that J should be considered blasphemous when taken in conjunction with the orthodox views of God, Yahweh, or whatever one happens to call this character; that is what Y
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Lisa
The worst thing about the book was Harold Bloom. Yes, I know he's a titan in the field of literary criticism. But he's become so big that he doesn't bother with the mundane task of proving his positions with, say, the text. He just asserts endlessly and the reader, knowing who he is, is supposed to bow down and tell him "You're right; you're so right!" in a suitably-awed whisper. Even his effusions about Shakespeare, of whom I am a fan, can't save his analysis of the text. Apparently only J and ...more
Alger
It has been a while since I read this, but the lasting impact that this book had upon my understanding of the Bible and the actual purpose of the authors has been lasting and beneficial. I might even go so far as to argue that this book introduced me to deconstruction as a literary tool.

Well written and logical, a marvelous revelation of biblical politics and history, and just a fine book in many ways.

My one reservation is the faddish, and entirely unnecessary assertion by Bloom that J was a wo
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WT Sharpe
Some sections are highly speculative in nature, such as the suggestion that The Yahwist was a woman who lived in the the courts of those who succeeded King Solomon and the suggestion that her work was perhaps meant to be understood as a fictional account rather than be accepted as Holy Writ, but wherever such speculation appears it is clearly labeled as such, making this book is a valuable resource to all serious students of the Bible. It certainly increased my appreciation for the unknown autho ...more
Chuck
Mixed feelings. Worth reading because Bloom's contributions are splendid the translation does a fine job of restoring the freshness and strangeness of this most familiar of texts. That said, there are some infelicities in the translation ("The man named his wife Hava: she would have all who live, smooth the way, mother."). Also, while I understand the impulse, I dislike the choice to de-Anglicize names (Babel-Bavel, Eve-Havah, Jubal-Yuval). It pulls the reader up and distracts from the work, whi ...more
Thom Foolery
I remember buying this book in 1991 or 1992 at the Old Book Barn in Forsyth and feeling like I had theological nitroglycerin in my hands. I had recently been introduced to the Documentary Hypothesis of Biblical origins, and I thought that this "retranslation" of one of the component texts/writers this theory invokes, "J," would be earth-shattering. Excitedly I placed it on mt bookself and there it sat for almost a quarter-century before I picked it up on impulse.

I honestly wish I had left it on
...more
Steven Peterson
My sense in this review is that I am close to "in over my head." Readers differ greatly on their evaluation of this work, including how well the translation is done, historicity of Bloom's speculation, and so on. But I'll "wade in" anyway, realizing that I can't directly assess the accuracy of the translation or the strength of Bloom's knowledge on the matter. Bloom's focus in this work is encapsulated by his statement that (Page 9): "In Jerusalem, nearly three thousand years ago, an unknown aut ...more
Chris Hearn
"J" is proposed by scholars to be the author of one of the earliest Biblical texts, which was split up over the following millennium and greatly edited to form portions of what we consider to be the books of Genesis, Exodus, and Numbers. This recent translation attempts to stay true to the work, and brings out amongst other things the sinister character of Yahweh, and every other male character, and much of the original poetic nature of it, lost in later Biblical edits and translations.

It is co
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geraldo rivera
This is a wonderfully original interpretation of what biblical scholars believe to be the earliest writings from the Torah (the first five books of the Hebrew Bible). Bloom has an annoying tendency to use superlatives to describe the author's (J's) genius, rather than just giving his interpretation of J's literature and letting the reader decide whether or not this is the greatest author until Shakespeare. But his analysis, when he gets down to it, is insightful. More importantly, he does what l ...more
Joe
This is a manuscript of pivotal importance, and almost no one has heard of it. Yet it changed history forever and led to three of the world's most influential religions. Who was J? Most likely a scribe in the time of Solomon and later David, when David was just coming into his own. This is the earliest version of the Bible. Want to have your faith challenged? Well too bad. This is solid proof that the origins of Christianity were originally very different, and not at all orthodoxized. That came ...more
James Coon
This is re-creation of what Bloom and the translator believe may have been the original Jawist version of the books of Moses, before being combined with other versions by the Redactor. Reading this the story presentend in this way is a powerful experience, much more so than the version we have in the King James Bible or other translations. Of course, there is no way to know for sure how close this is to the original, but it is well worth the read for the literary merit of the material itself.
Ruth Shulman
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
J.A. Pak
I love Bloom's compelling theory that the best writer of Genesis was a woman. The theories of how the Old Testament was written can get pretty complex but Bloom's theory is simple, entertaining, and, I think, right. There's just too much irony in Genesis—-of course the best parts were written by a woman!
Austin Murphy
I don't really get it. The claim is that this translation is somehow "purer" in recognizing the irony of the original text, buy it just reads like a less fancy version of the same tales told in the King James Version. What am I missing?
Red Shoes
I have a love of the art of translation, and to watch as these scholars dissect the language of the most-read and least-understood books, and extrapolate on their origin, was awesome.
Alex Nagler
Nothing like a nice authoritative work on multiple authorship theory with commentary by Bloom where he compares pretty much every Biblical character to a Shakespearean one.
Carol
Jan 17, 2010 Carol added it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Those who want to rethinkBible
Recommended to Carol by: New York Times book review
A wonderful view of the "J" source in the Hebrew Scriptures (primarily Genesis and Exodus) with a fascinating appraisal of what God is really centered on. Makes you think.
Bryn Hammond
Bloom at his most original. Again, the Bible as art, but what art this guy sees. Yahweh as one of the great characters in fiction; and David as another. I'm convinced on both.
Cynthia Machata
A very interesting view on history, religion and a disruption to the way 'things are suppose to be' ... such as women in position of authority - imagine that.
Alessandro
An interesting attempt at extracting the original mythology from all the Levitical crap that populates the Torah. Quite readable (much more so than the Bible itself!)
Vicky
One of the transcriptions from which the first two books of the Old Testament were made. Bloom makes a case for it being a woman who lived after King David.
David Schwarm
This is a very fun book--Bloom in his difiant hippy phase of just making stuff up to see what happens. I really enjoyed it.
Jenn
Sep 09, 2012 Jenn is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
I am picking at this book. Anyone interested in historical Biblical writings or religious studies should read this book!
P.
I didn't enjoy this nearly as much as the first time. One of us has changed!
Calvin
you need to take a serious leap of logic to buy accept this thesis
Bubba
Whatever it was supposed to do, it didn't do it for me.
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Bloom is a literary critic, and currently a Sterling Professor of the Humanities at Yale University. Since the publication of his first book in 1959, Bloom has written more than 20 books of literary criticism, several books discussing religion, and one novel. He has edited hundreds of anthologies.
More about Harold Bloom...
Kurt Vonnegut's Cat's Cradle (Modern Critical Interpretations) Aldous Huxley's Brave New World (Bloom's Guides) Shakespeare: The Invention of the Human The Western Canon: The Books and School of the Ages How to Read and Why

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