While full of jargon, this work about the Bible offers a wealth of textual pearls.

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THE SÔD HYPOTHESIS

PHENOMENOLOGICAL, SEMIOTIC, COGNITIVE, AND NOETIC-LITERARY RECOVERY OF THE PENTATEUCH’S EMBEDDED INNER-CORE MYSTICAL INITIATION TRADITION OF ANCIENT ISRAELITE CULTIC RELIGION

A book-length doctoral dissertation focuses on finding hidden meaning in the Old Testament.

This extensive work from debut author Kohav revolves around a fairly straightforward idea: Is there a secret in the Pentateuch (the first five books of the Bible)? This secret (or “Sôd,” as it is referred to in the text) is not something that comes from a lost chapter or has been concealed by a grand conspiracy. The Sôd is, instead, something that has been hidden in plain sight. One merely needs to know how to unearth the correct interpretation. But, as this is an academic work, the path to that assessment is a long, winding, and verbose one. Before any conclusions can be drawn, readers are taken on a tour of such heady topics as “accessibility to esoteric knowledge,” mysticism, and the “meaning of meaning.” As the author’s main considerations come into focus, there is a great emphasis on certain biblical occurrences. Take the book of Joshua. What is meant by the bizarre conquering of Jericho? Are readers of such a fantastical narrative really meant to believe that a city fell to an invading army because of a seemingly magical occurrence? Or is the tale meant to drive at something else entirely? Consider the story of Jacob. What importance does Jacob’s twin brother, Esau, play? The hypothesis steers readers beyond simplistic allegorical ideas into concepts like chakras and what it means to be a “would-be initiate of” God. And that is merely the beginning of the concepts to unpack. For the nonacademic, this untangling is no easy task. Phrases such as “narrative-conceptual integrity” and “the critical role of falsifiability” make the work, at least in places, a struggle to fully understand. The inclusion of ideas from more approachable thinkers like Umberto Eco and Jacques Derrida provides some elucidation. But, as one might expect from a doctoral dissertation, the layperson is not the intended audience. Nevertheless, the armchair professor can still glean much from these pages. The books of the Bible, for all their familiarity, are still open to close and even novel analysis. All readers can come away with fresh perspectives on episodes and themes that they may have taken for granted. A potent point comes with a comparison of the Odyssey and the story of the Exodus. Whereas the Odyssey follows the type of hero’s journey arc very much in tune with the modern concept of storytelling (the protagonist embarks on a quest and returns changed), the Exodus is different. As the author puts it: “The Odyssey’s symbol of initiation…is a circle; the Exodus’s, an arrow.” Dissecting the implications of such a point requires a great number of words and notes. But for committed readers, they are bountiful in food for thought. Even if every argument cannot be distinctly grasped by the uninitiated, the volume provides a new way of looking at very old stories.  

While full of jargon, this work about the Bible offers a wealth of textual pearls.

Pub Date: May 2, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-615-79937-7

Page Count: 530

Publisher: MaKoM Publications

Review Posted Online: Dec. 21, 2018

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WHAT A WONDERFUL WORLD

A LIFETIME OF RECORDINGS

Noted jazz and pop record producer Thiele offers a chatty autobiography. Aided by record-business colleague Golden, Thiele traces his career from his start as a ``pubescent, novice jazz record producer'' in the 1940s through the '50s, when he headed Coral, Dot, and Roulette Records, and the '60s, when he worked for ABC and ran the famous Impulse! jazz label. At Coral, Thiele championed the work of ``hillbilly'' singer Buddy Holly, although the only sessions he produced with Holly were marred by saccharine strings. The producer specialized in more mainstream popsters like the irrepressibly perky Teresa Brewer (who later became his fourth wife) and the bubble-machine muzak-meister Lawrence Welk. At Dot, Thiele was instrumental in recording Jack Kerouac's famous beat- generation ramblings to jazz accompaniment (recordings that Dot's president found ``pornographic''), while also overseeing a steady stream of pop hits. He then moved to the Mafia-controlled Roulette label, where he observed the ``silk-suited, pinky-ringed'' entourage who frequented the label's offices. Incredibly, however, Thiele remembers the famously hard-nosed Morris Levy, who ran the label and was eventually convicted of extortion, as ``one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, and classiest music men I have ever known.'' At ABC/Impulse!, Thiele oversaw the classic recordings of John Coltrane, although he is the first to admit that Coltrane essentially produced his own sessions. Like many producers of the day, Thiele participated in the ownership of publishing rights to some of the songs he recorded; he makes no apology for this practice, which he calls ``entirely appropriate and without any ethical conflicts.'' A pleasant, if not exactly riveting, memoir that will be of most interest to those with a thirst for cocktail-hour stories of the record biz. (25 halftones, not seen)

Pub Date: May 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-19-508629-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1995

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Necessarily swift and adumbrative as well as inclusive, focused, and graceful.

A LITTLE HISTORY OF POETRY

A light-speed tour of (mostly) Western poetry, from the 4,000-year-old Gilgamesh to the work of Australian poet Les Murray, who died in 2019.

In the latest entry in the publisher’s Little Histories series, Carey, an emeritus professor at Oxford whose books include What Good Are the Arts? and The Unexpected Professor: An Oxford Life in Books, offers a quick definition of poetry—“relates to language as music relates to noise. It is language made special”—before diving in to poetry’s vast history. In most chapters, the author deals with only a few writers, but as the narrative progresses, he finds himself forced to deal with far more than a handful. In his chapter on 20th-century political poets, for example, he talks about 14 writers in seven pages. Carey displays a determination to inform us about who the best poets were—and what their best poems were. The word “greatest” appears continually; Chaucer was “the greatest medieval English poet,” and Langston Hughes was “the greatest male poet” of the Harlem Renaissance. For readers who need a refresher—or suggestions for the nightstand—Carey provides the best-known names and the most celebrated poems, including Paradise Lost (about which the author has written extensively), “Kubla Khan,” “Ozymandias,” “The Charge of the Light Brigade,” Wordsworth and Coleridge’s Lyrical Ballads, which “changed the course of English poetry.” Carey explains some poetic technique (Hopkins’ “sprung rhythm”) and pauses occasionally to provide autobiographical tidbits—e.g., John Masefield, who wrote the famous “Sea Fever,” “hated the sea.” We learn, as well, about the sexuality of some poets (Auden was bisexual), and, especially later on, Carey discusses the demons that drove some of them, Robert Lowell and Sylvia Plath among them. Refreshingly, he includes many women in the volume—all the way back to Sappho—and has especially kind words for Marianne Moore and Elizabeth Bishop, who share a chapter.

Necessarily swift and adumbrative as well as inclusive, focused, and graceful.

Pub Date: April 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-300-23222-6

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Yale Univ.

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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