Why did no other ancient society produce a text remotely like the Bible? That a tiny, out of the way community, could have produced a text so determinative for peoples across the globe seems improbable.For Jacob Wright, the Bible is not only a testimony of survival, but also an unparalleled achievement in human history. Forged during Babylonian exile after the shattering destruction of Jerusalem, it makes not victory but total humiliation the foundation of a new idea of belonging. Lamenting the destruction of their homeland, scribes who composed the Bible turned to the golden ages of the past, reflecting deeply on abject failure. More than just religious scripture, the Bible is a resonant blueprint for the inspiring creation of a nation. As a response to catastrophe, it offers a powerful, message of hope and restoration that is unique in the Ancient Near Eastern and Greco-Roman worlds. Wright's Bible is thus a social, political, and even economic roadmap – one that enabled a small and obscure community located on the periphery of leading civilizations and empires, not just to come back from the brink, but ultimately to shape the world's destiny. The Bible speaks ultimately of being a united, yet diverse people, and its pages present a manual of pragmatic survival strategies in response to societal collapse.
In this landmark study, Wright (War, Memory, and National Identity in the Hebrew Bible), an associate professor of the Hebrew Bible at Emory University, analyzes why and how "the most influential corpus of literature the world has ever known" originated in "a remote region of the ancient world, rather than... the centers of civilization." According to Wright, scribes began working on the Torah following the destruction of Jerusalem in 586 BCE and intentionally wove their peoples' subjugation by the Babylonian Empire into the narrative, creating a history that reexamined "every facet of their existence." Mostly, though, the "biblical project" was an answer to the smoldering rifts between the Northern kingdom (of Israel) and the Southern kingdom (of Judah), in hopes that the vision of "a nation that transcends the borders of its kingdoms" would prove "the populations of these two rival states could be one people." Wright paints a fascinating and multilayered portrait of the scriptural authors, who "built questioning into the system of the Bible" (interspersing scripture with "contradictions that undermine their overall message, requiring the reader to ponder the problems and take a personal stance") and whose writings provide the modern reader with insights into "questions of corporate life, common welfare, and collective survival." Thought-provoking and scrupulously researched, this is a tour de force.
Needs basic copy editing
Looks interesting but the numerous basic scribal errors are distracting. Surprised this is from Cambridge. Hopefully will be fixed in an update.