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The Bible

In the beginning

by
Adam Kirsch
September 17, 2013

What else could top a list of Jewish books? Without the Bible, there would be no Judaism—and, of course, no Christianity or Islam, nor much of Western culture as we know it. But the Bible is more than a book: It is a library (the Greek biblia is a plural), full of very different voices and genres, each with its own way of interpreting God and his plans for the Jewish people. Read it again and you will be surprised at its essential pluralism: Here are myth and history, miracle tales and dry genealogies, agricultural regulations and architectural plans, disillusioned worldly-wisdom and ecstatic vision. If Judaism has managed to reinvent itself so many times over the millennia, taking new forms in response to new challenges, it is because the Jews’ greatest book speaks of God in so many inspired voices.

Adam Kirsch is a poet and literary critic, whose books include The People and the Books: 18 Classics of Jewish Literature.

Adam Kirsch is a poet and literary critic, whose books include The People and the Books: 18 Classics of Jewish Literature.

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