TANAK: A Theological and Critical Introduction to the Jewish Bible

The always considerate folk at Fortress have sent for review this new work by Marvin Sweeney- TANAK: A Theological and Critical Introduction to the Jewish Bible.

Says the publisher’s blurb-

Though “biblical theology” has long been considered a strictly Christian enterprise, Marvin A. Sweeney here proposes a Jewish theology of the Hebrew Bible, based on the importance of Tanak as the foundation of Judaism and organized around the major components: Torah, Nevi’im (Prophets), and Kethuvim (Writings). Sweeney finds the structuring themes of Jewish life: the constitution of the nation Israel in relation to God; the disruption of that ideal, documented by the Prophets; and the reconstitution of the nation around the Second Temple in the Writings. Throughout he is attentive to tensions within and among the texts and the dialogical character of Israel’s sacred heritage.

You can view the table of contents, the introduction, and the first part of chapter 1 online. I’ll be reviewing each main part:

Part I- Introduction
Part II- The Torah
Part IIIA- The Former Prophets
Part IIIB- The Latter Prophets
Part IV- The Ketuvim/Writings
Part V- Conclusion

As much as I would like to be able to recommend this volume, I cannot.

2 thoughts on “TANAK: A Theological and Critical Introduction to the Jewish Bible

  1. Quoting from the first paragraph of your review, “Sweeney informs us that he will be following the Jewish tradition of writing ‘G-d’ instead of spelling it out and that he will also use ‘YHWH’, ‘Eloqim’, ‘Eloqeinu’ and other substitutes so as not to ‘desecrate the Holy Name of G-d’ (p. xii).” I agree completely with you that this way of rendering the divine name(s) has no place in an academic volume. And since the discussion on this topic in another forum has been closed, I would like to add here that if the author had been truly informed correctly about the Jewish tradition in writing the divine name(s), he had refrained from writing out the Tetragrammaton and used YKWK (either with W or V) instead! Apart from the question whether it makes any sense to hyphenate ‘God’, since it is not a name (!), the four letters represent actually a transliteration of the four letter name. I don’t know which Jewish theological tomes Professor Sweeney has read, but for sure non will have both G-d and YHWH together. It is, indeed, ludicrous.


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