From the prizewinning Jewish Lives series, a meditation on the complex life of the father of the Twelve Tribes and how the ancient writers and storytellers shaped his identity
A powerful hero of the Bible, Jacob is also one of its most complex figures. Bible stories recounting his life often expose his deception, lies, and greed--then, puzzlingly, attempt to justify them. In this book, eminent biblical scholar Yair Zakovitch presents a complete view of the patriarch, first examining Jacob and his life story as presented in the Bible, then also reconstructing the stories that the Bible writers suppressed--tales that were well-known, perhaps, but incompatible with the image of Jacob they wanted to promote. Through a work of extraordinary "literary archaeology," Zakovitch explores the recesses of literary history, reaching back even to the stage of oral storytelling, to identify sources of Jacob's story that preceded the work of the Genesis writers.
The biblical writers were skilled mosaic-makers, Zakovitch shows, and their achievement was to reshape diverse pre-biblical representations of Jacob in support of their emerging new religion and identity. As the author follows Jacob in his wanderings and revelations, his successes, disgraces, and disappointments, he also considers the religious and political environment in which the Bible was written, offering a powerful explication of early Judaism. About Jewish Lives:
Jewish Lives is a prizewinning series of interpretative biography designed to explore the many facets of Jewish identity. Individual volumes illuminate the imprint of Jewish figures upon literature, religion, philosophy, politics, cultural and economic life, and the arts and sciences. Subjects are paired with authors to elicit lively, deeply informed books that explore the range and depth of the Jewish experience from antiquity to the present.
In 2014, the Jewish Book Council named Jewish Lives the winner of its Jewish Book of the Year Award, the first series ever to receive this award. More praise for Jewish Lives:
"Excellent" -New York Times
"Exemplary" -Wall Street Journal
"Distinguished" -New Yorker
"Superb" -The Guardian
"Zakovitch has provided us with a brilliant analytical biography utilizing traditional rabbinic sources, ancient Near Eastern literature, non-canonical biblical books, modern critical techniques, and incisive hermeneutical interpretation. The scholar will appreciate the nuances and the neophyte will be enthralled by new discoveries."--Wallace Greene, Jewish Book World
--Wallace Greene "Jewish Book World "
"Zakovitch draws a colorful picture of the complex and enigmatic patriarch, whose story is essential for understanding the traditions of ancient Hebrews regarding their early days. This is an irreplaceable, must-read book for whoever is interested in the Hebrew Bible and the history of ancient Israel."--Israel Finkelstein, author of The Bible Unearthed: Archaeology's New Vision of Ancient Israel and the Origin of Its Sacred Texts--Israel Finkelstein
"An engaging analysis of one of the Bible's most complex figures."--Kirkus Reviews--Kirkus