Faculty Reading Recommendations

Joel Kaminsky, Professor of Religion

Joel Kaminsky, Professor of Religion

Joel Kaminsky teaches courses on the Hebrew Bible and on ancient Jewish religion and literature. His research interests include narrative and theological work on the Hebrew Bible and Rabbinic Judaism. He received his doctorate in 1993 from the University of Chicago and came to Smith in 1997 after previously teaching at a number of other institutions, including St. Olaf College, Muhlenberg College and Loyola University of Chicago. He is the author of Yet I Loved Jacob: Reclaiming the Biblical Concept of Election (Nashville: Abingdon, 2007), Jews, Christians, and the Theology of the Hebrew Scriptures, co-edited by Alice Bellis and Joel S. Kaminsky (SBL Symposium Series, 8; Atlanta:  SBL, 2000) and Corporate Responsibility in the Hebrew Bible, Journal for the Study of the Old Testament Supplement Series, 196; (Sheffield:  Sheffield Academic Press, 1995).

Here are a few good scholarly but very readable books on the Hebrew Bible

  • Richard E. Friedman’s Who Wrote the Bible? This book reads like a detective novel and lays out the closest thing to a consensus view of how the first 11 books of the Bible reached their current form.
  • Robert Alter’s, The Art of Biblical Narrative examines the literary artistry of the Hebrew Bible and challenges certain assumptions of older source critics who often assumed that any unevenness in the text was simply a sign that a clumsy editor had poorly merged two variant accounts.
  • Bruce Zuckerman’s Job the Silent: A Study in Historical Counterpoint traces the way in which a Yiddish story was interpreted before and after the Holocaust in order to shed light on how the Book of Job may have been reshaped by certain tragic events in ancient Israel’s history.
  • Jon D. Levenson’s, The Death and Resurrection of the Beloved Son masterfully demonstrates that Judaism and Christianity share a related set of powerful myths and rituals that have their roots in the archaic practice of child sacrifice but are transformed in unique and highly sophisticated ways by each tradition. Levenson’s work is a bit complex and if one wants a related but more accessible work on aspects of this subject, I would toot my own horn and suggest reading my recent book, Yet I Loved Jacob. My book examines the idea of chosenness within the Hebrew Bible as well as exploring the distinct manner in which Rabbinic Judaism and New Testament Christianity each appropriated this central idea.