Authors & Events
Mar 03, 1998
| ISBN 9780345418821
Sep 23, 2009
| ISBN 9780307567635
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Mar 03, 1998 | ISBN 9780345418821
Sep 23, 2009 | ISBN 9780307567635
"The stories you are about to read are some of the most violent and sexually explicit in all of Western literature. They are tales of human passion in all of its infinite variety: adultery, seduction, incest, rape, mutilation, assassination, torture, sacrifice, and murder. . . ."Sex. Violence. Scandal. These are words we rarely associate with the sacred text of the Bible. Yet in this brilliant book, Jonathan Kirsch recounts shocking tales that have been suppressed by religious authorities throughout history. Kirsch places each story within the political and social context of its time, delves into the latest biblical scholarship to explain why each one was originally censored, and shows how these ancient narratives hold valuable lessons for all of us.
Sex. Violence. Scandal. These are words we rarely associate with the sacred text of the Bible. Yet in this brilliant new book, Jonathan Kirsch shows that the Old Testament is filled with some of the most startling and explicit stories in all of Western literature. These tales of seduction and rape, voyeurism and exhibitionism, intermarriage and illegitimacy, assassination and murder have been suppressed by religious authorities throughout history precisely because they are so shocking. "You mean that’s in the Bible?" is the common reaction of the contemporary reader to the stories that Kirsch retells and explores.In The Harlot by the Side of the Road, Kirsch recounts these suppressed and mistranslated tales in the grand storytelling tradition. Here is the tale of Dinah, the young Israelite daughter raped by a princely suitor. The price for her hand in marriage? The circumcision of every man in his kingdom. Here, too, is the story of Lot’s daughters, who, when faced with the possibility that they are the last survivors on earth, must copulate with their drunken father to continue their race. And the story of Tamar, the harlot by the side of the road, who must disguise herself as a prostitute and seduce her father-in-law in order to bear the child who has been promised her. Kirsch places each story within the political and social context of its time, and delves into the latest biblical scholarship to explain why each story was originally censored. He also brings to light when and where each story was first written down, and how it found its way into the Bible. And he shows how these stories have something important to say to contemporary readers who might never pick up a Bible.Kirsch reveals that the Bible’s real power lies in its unflinching lessons in human nature. And he illuminates the surprising modernity of the Bible’s characters: these were, like us, people delicately balanced between their destructive and generous natures. Certain to excite controversy and ignite intellectual debate, The Harlot by the Side of the Road will undoubtedly be one of the year’s most talked-about books.
Jonathan Kirsch is a book columnist for the Los Angeles Times and the author of the bestselling and critically acclaimed books Moses: A Life and The Harlot by the Side of the Road. He writes and lectures widely on biblical, literary, and legal topics. Kirsch is a… More about Jonathan Kirsch
Sometimes when you work for a big book company, there are so many books that you aren’t completely aware of every one your coworkers are publishing. I read about Harlot in Publisher’s weekly, and was so intrigued that I made a mental note to pick up a copy when it came out. A month later, I had completely forgotten that it was a Ballantine book and while pursing the stacks in a local bookstore, came across it and was still intrigued. Without looking at the imprint on the spine (that little logo that tells you who published the book) I bought it and started reading it on the subway. Fascinating! Everything you ever wanted to be told in Sunday School. It wasn’t until I read the acknowledgements that I realized it was our book! A. Scheibe, Editor
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