Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Harlot by the Side of the Road” as Want to Read:
Harlot by the Side of the Road
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating

Harlot by the Side of the Road

3.84 of 5 stars 3.84  ·  rating details  ·  561 ratings  ·  70 reviews
Sex. Violence. Scandal. These are words we rarely associate with the sacred text of the Bible. Yet in this brilliant new book, Jonathan Kirsch shows that the Old Testament is filled with some of the most startling and explicit stories in all of Western literature. These tales of seduction and rape, voyeurism and exhibitionism, intermarriage and illegitimacy, assassination ...more
ebook, 416 pages
Published September 23rd 2009 by Ballantine Books (first published 1997)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Harlot by the Side of the Road, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Harlot by the Side of the Road

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,106)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
Skylar Burris
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
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!؟
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
Althea Ann
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
Well this is one of those so called scholarly works where the author approaches his thesis with preconceived ideas and prejudices and simply gets it completely wrong. It seems to be also one of these books where the author is going out 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 themselves Christians) to support his own strange ide ...more
Monica Lee
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
Dayes Mohammed
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 5 of 5 stars  ·  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
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
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.
Mar 21, 2013 Paula rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  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
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
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.
This book is a solidly researched book that retells and embellishes on some of the racier Old Testament stories. It doesn't add any smut or violence, though - the Old Testament is so jam packed with genocides, mass murders, rape, incest, human sacrifice (no, not the famous almost completed one featuring Isaac and Abraham, the completed one featuring Jephthah and the nameless daughter he sacrificed to God)and it needs nothing added to it to make it wholly over the top on the violence and sex scal ...more
Gerry Haines
This is the story behind the stories you read in the bible - a lot of them anyway !

The fact is that women in those days got a raw deal in many ways, yet women were sometimes able to play men at their own game and still come out on top. Many women in the Bible are featured here, we get to meet Ruth and Tamar and many others, but we also get an insight into the culture that produced the Bible, and as we unravel each tale, we find more than meets the eye.

Yes, it is a challenging book to read, comin
This book tells the stories from the Bible that aren't typically learned in Sunday school or preached from the pulpit. They are there in the Bible, but are either morally conflicting, or so violent that no one really talks about them because we aren't really sure what is the point to the story.
Kirsch began this book after reading to his then 5 year old son and realizing that there were things he didn't or couldn't read to his son, as he was unsure of how to explain some texts. Kirsch has unrave
it was ok, but despite the fact these were supposed to "under told" stories of the Bible; i had read them all and studies some of them. Nothing new. :(
Joanne Alvergue
Biblical analysis of women's roles in the Old Testament. Interesting read.
I love this book! I was studying the Matthew last night and came across something that got me to pick this book up again. Fascinating! I love books like these that propel me to ask questions, do my own research and find my own answers.
There are so many things that we read in the Bible and just pass over and never think about again. It's in these key phrases or confusing topics that make the Bible one of a kind. This is the only book I've ever read that made me very excited to read the Bible thr
I read this book a few years ago and it has really stuck with me. The footnotes and quotes are great for putting the stories in context. If you have ever pondered "who decided the stories that went into the bible" or "after Sodom and Gomorrah were burned, how did civilization in that part of the world continue?" or any question like that, then I recommend this book. Women played a pivotal role in history and these back stories and historical setting really show that. Part fact, part something el ...more
Beth Chandler
May 22, 2008 Beth Chandler rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Stasa, Mariella, Ken, anyone interested in Jewish scripture in cultural contexts
Retelling and various interpretations of seven little-know stories from the Hebrew Bible (aka the "Old Testament") The retelling of each story alternated with the actual Biblical text can get cumbersome, but otherwise this book is an intelligent study of "corners" of scripture. The author brings in various extrapolations from and interpretations of each element of each story instead of holding to a pet theory, allowing each reader to make an independent decision.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 36 37 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Jesus Lied - He Was Only Human: Debunking the New Testament
  • American Jesus: How the Son of God Became a National Icon
  • The Scandalous Gospel of Jesus: What's So Good about the Good News?
  • The Dead Sea Scrolls Deception
  • The Religion Virus: Why We Believe in God: An Evolutionist Explains Religion's Incredible Hold on Humanity
  • Asimov's Guide to the Bible: The Old and New Testaments (2 Vol.)
  • The Creation of Feminist Consciousness: From the Middle Ages to Eighteen-Seventy
  • Don't Know Much About the Bible: Everything You Need to Know About the Good Book but Never Learned
  • A Celebration of Sex: A Guide to Enjoying God's Gift of Sexual Intimacy
  • سيرة الماسونية: فك شيفرة الرمز المفقود
  • The Lost Gospel of Judas Iscariot: A New Look at Betrayer and Betrayed
  • Sacred Pleasure: Sex, Myth and the Politics of the Body
  • God and Sex: What the Bible Really Says
  • Faith and Betrayal: A Pioneer Woman's Passage in the American West
  • H.L. Mencken on Religion
  • Who Wrote the Bible?
  • The Beginning of Desire
  • Why I Am Not a Christian: Four Conclusive Reasons to Reject the Faith
God Against the Gods: The History of the War Between Monotheism and Polytheism A History of the End of the World: How the Most Controversial Book in the Bible Changed the Course of Western Civilization The Grand Inquisitor's Manual King David: The Real Life of the Man Who Ruled Israel The Short, Strange Life of Herschel Grynszpan: A Boy Avenger, a Nazi Diplomat, and a Murder in Paris

Share This Book