An ambitious reordering of the Hebrew Bible.
Recognizing that many people find the Bible to be strange, difficult or unapproachable, Curtis decided to create a new version of key sections of the Old Testament to allow readers an easier introduction to Scripture. His resulting work draws upon standard translations as well as modern scholarship to present the most ancient Hebrew Scriptures in a way that is at once familiar as well as engaging and explainable. Readers already well-versed in the Bible will be surprised to find that the order Curtis uses is notably different from the actual texts. Instead of starting with a creation story, Curtis begins with the stories of Terah and Abraham. The early tales of Genesis appear much later in a chapter called “Wilderness Stories,” told during the wandering of the Israelites. Similarly, the book of Job appears between the stories of Joseph and of Moses, a new placement that may seem somewhat jarring to many readers. Curtis often inserts commentary to explain a situation in the text. For instance, when Joseph’s father suspects that his son has been eaten by a wild animal, Curtis adds, “Public displays of grief typically included tearing one’s clothes and wearing sackcloth,” and later, in the tale of Job’s woe, he writes, “The behemoth...was an animal not unlike a hippopotamus.” Such comments are reminiscent of the simple explanatory footnotes found in many editions of the Bible, but they appear here within the text. Curtis avoids being technical or utilizing cross-references, but his charts showing family trees, details of laws, etc., are helpful additions. Readers won’t find the complete Old Testament in this work; instead, Curtis strives to present only the most ancient texts, culminating in the laws given by God through Moses. Familiar works, such as the Psalms and Proverbs, as well as historical and prophetic books of the Bible are not represented.
An original concept that yields a commendable, approachable reworking of the ancient Hebrew Scriptures.