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ABRAHAM by David Rosenberg


The First Historical Biography

by David Rosenberg

Pub Date: April 30th, 2006
ISBN: 0-465-07094-9
Publisher: Basic

Innovative look at the patriarch by biblical scholar Rosenberg (Dreams of Being Eaten Alive, 2000, etc.).

The author begins by asserting that Abraham was indeed a real person, not a character of myth. As such, his life can be fleshed out by an examination of archeological evidence from his birthplace, Sumerian Ur. Using cuneiform texts found mainly in the last several decades, Rosenberg attempts to shed light on how Abraham was educated, what his father’s work was, even what his family life was like. In his portrait, Abraham is a man of great learning and social status, interested in preserving not only himself and his bloodline, but also his Sumerian culture. Rosenberg implies that Abraham actually gave birth to the new Hebrew culture. He also presents a very different view of Abraham’s relationship to Yahweh, asserting that he would have first viewed Yahweh as a household god, thus making their relationship an intimate one from the outset. Rosenberg breathes life not only into Abraham but also into his early biographers, especially the biblical writer he profiled with Harold Bloom in The Book of J (1990). (An unfortunately brief chapter on the biblical author X is also notable.) Examples of the texts from which he draws inferences about Abraham’s life and upbringing would have strengthened this intriguing work.

For lay readers and scholars, a valuable exploration of how Abraham and his biographers fit into the larger scheme of Jewish cultural and religious history.