The Biography of Ancient Israel: National Narratives in the Bible

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9780520236868: The Biography of Ancient Israel: National Narratives in the Bible

The nation--particularly in Exodus and Numbers--is not an abstract concept but rather a grand character whose history is fleshed out with remarkable literary power. In her innovative exploration of national imagination in the Bible, Pardes highlights the textual manifestations of the metaphor, the many anthropomorphisms by which a collective character named "Israel" springs to life. She explores the representation of communal motives, hidden desires, collective anxieties, the drama and suspense embedded in each phase of the nation's life: from birth in exile, to suckling in the wilderness, to a long process of maturation that has no definite end. In the Bible, Pardes suggests, history and literature go hand in hand more explicitly than in modern historiography, which is why the Bible serves as a paradigmatic case for examining the narrative base of national constructions.

Pardes calls for a consideration of the Bible's penetrating renditions of national ambivalence. She reads the rebellious conduct of the nation against the grain, probing the murmurings of the people, foregrounding their critique of the official line. The Bible does not provide a homogeneous account of nation formation, according to Pardes, but rather reveals points of tension between different perceptions of the nation's history and destiny.

This fresh and beautifully rendered portrayal of the history of ancient Israel will be of vital interest to anyone interested in the Bible, in the interrelations of literature and history, in nationhood, in feminist thought, and in psychoanalysis.

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The Biography of Ancient Israel by Ilana Pardes is based on a reading of the nation as a collective character, not an abstract concept. Particularly in Exodus and Numbers ("where the primary questions about the origin and singularity of the nation are raised"), Pardes argues, Israel is "personified; it is a character with a distinct voice ... it moans and groans, is euphoric at times, complains frequently, and rebels against Moses and God time and again." The Biography of Ancient Israel considers its subject a "male character who is God's first-born son" (though Pardes acknowledges that the Hebrew Scriptures are also full of female metaphors for Israel). Following Israel through its birth, youth, and young adulthood, and ending at Mt. Nebo, where the Scriptures' personification of Israel as God's son ends, this book is preoccupied with understanding the ways in which individual and national lives influence one another. "The biography of the nation seeps into the lives of individuals and shapes their desires and destinies, wittingly and unwittingly," Pardes writes. Although many readers may find it hard getting through parts of this academic biography, their work will be amply rewarded by such insights. --Michael Joseph Gross

From the Inside Flap:

"Pardes has a remarkable gift for asking new questions about familiar texts and providing fresh insights into old problems. By looking closely at the key metaphors and the narrative details of the biblical story of the formation of the Israelite nation, she has teased out of the text a compelling biography."—Robert Alter, Professor of Hebrew and Comparative Literature, University of California, Berkeley

"Ilana Pardes elegantly recasts the mythic story of Israel's emergence as the story of the birth, individuation, initiation, and maturity of an emergent subject. Ambivalences, deferrals, power struggles, and multiple memories all characterize Israel's development and the stories told about it. Through a set of close and graceful readings, Pardes persuasively argues that the first five books of the Bible constitute, not the history, but the biography of a nation." —Elizabeth A. Castelli, Barnard College, author of Imitating Paul: A Discourse of Power

"The book of books has generated many other works, but Ilana Pardes's The Biography of Ancient Israel is in a class by itself. In beautiful, spare prose, she reconstructs the way the biblical authors imagined the history of ancient Israel. Artfully weaving literary and psychological insights, she has given us an entirely fresh view of the Bible as original as it is brilliant. This is a book for every reader of the Bible who wishes 'to wrest tradition away from a conformism that is about to overpower it.'"—David Biale, author of Eros and the Jews

"This is a wonderful book and a delight to read. The idea of treating the exodus story as a collective biography is quite original, and makes possible a genuinely illuminating reading of the story."—Michael Walzer, author of Exodus and Revolution

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Book Description University of California Press, United States, 2002. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Revised ed.. Language: English . Brand New Book. The nation - particularly in Exodus and Numbers - is not an abstract concept but rather a grand character whose history is fleshed out with remarkable literary power. In her innovative exploration of national imagination in the Bible, Pardes highlights the textual manifestations of the metaphor, the many anthropomorphisms by which a collective character named Israel springs to life. She explores the representation of communal motives, hidden desires, collective anxieties, the drama and suspense embedded in each phase of the nation s life: from birth in exile, to suckling in the wilderness, to a long process of maturation that has no definite end. In the Bible, Pardes suggests, history and literature go hand in hand more explicitly than in modern historiography, which is why the Bible serves as a paradigmatic case for examining the narrative base of national constructions. Pardes calls for a consideration of the Bible s penetrating renditions of national ambivalence. She reads the rebellious conduct of the nation against the grain, probing the murmurings of the people, foregrounding their critique of the official line. The Bible does not provide a homogeneous account of nation formation, according to Pardes, but rather reveals points of tension between different perceptions of the nation s history and destiny. This fresh and beautifully rendered portrayal of the history of ancient Israel will be of vital interest to anyone interested in the Bible, in the interrelations of literature and history, in nationhood, in feminist thought, and in psychoanalysis. Bookseller Inventory # AAZ9780520236868

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Book Description University of California Press, United States, 2002. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Revised ed.. Language: English . Brand New Book. The nation - particularly in Exodus and Numbers - is not an abstract concept but rather a grand character whose history is fleshed out with remarkable literary power. In her innovative exploration of national imagination in the Bible, Pardes highlights the textual manifestations of the metaphor, the many anthropomorphisms by which a collective character named Israel springs to life. She explores the representation of communal motives, hidden desires, collective anxieties, the drama and suspense embedded in each phase of the nation s life: from birth in exile, to suckling in the wilderness, to a long process of maturation that has no definite end. In the Bible, Pardes suggests, history and literature go hand in hand more explicitly than in modern historiography, which is why the Bible serves as a paradigmatic case for examining the narrative base of national constructions. Pardes calls for a consideration of the Bible s penetrating renditions of national ambivalence. She reads the rebellious conduct of the nation against the grain, probing the murmurings of the people, foregrounding their critique of the official line. The Bible does not provide a homogeneous account of nation formation, according to Pardes, but rather reveals points of tension between different perceptions of the nation s history and destiny. This fresh and beautifully rendered portrayal of the history of ancient Israel will be of vital interest to anyone interested in the Bible, in the interrelations of literature and history, in nationhood, in feminist thought, and in psychoanalysis. Bookseller Inventory # AAZ9780520236868

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Book Description University of California Press, 2002. Book Condition: New. A portrayal of the history of ancient Israel that is suitable for those interested in the Bible, in the interrelations of literature and history, in nationhood, in feminist thought, and in psychoanalysis. Series: Contraversions: Critical Studies in Jewish Literature, Culture & Society. Num Pages: 224 pages, notes, bibliography, index. BIC Classification: 1FBH; 2CSJ; DSB; HBJF1; HBLA; HRCG; HRJ. Category: (P) Professional & Vocational. Dimension: 135 x 204 x 30. Weight in Grams: 252. . 2002. New Ed. Paperback. . . . . . Bookseller Inventory # V9780520236868

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Book Description University of California Press. Book Condition: New. A portrayal of the history of ancient Israel that is suitable for those interested in the Bible, in the interrelations of literature and history, in nationhood, in feminist thought, and in psychoanalysis. Series: Contraversions: Critical Studies in Jewish Literature, Culture & Society. Num Pages: 224 pages, notes, bibliography, index. BIC Classification: 1FBH; 2CSJ; DSB; HBJF1; HBLA; HRCG; HRJ. Category: (P) Professional & Vocational. Dimension: 135 x 204 x 30. Weight in Grams: 252. . 2002. New Ed. Paperback. . . . . Books ship from the US and Ireland. Bookseller Inventory # V9780520236868

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