The Biography of Ancient Israel: National Narratives in the Bible

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University of California Press, 2000 - History - 211 pages
"Pardes has a remarkable gift for asking new questions about familiar texts and providing fresh insights into old problems. By looking closely at the key metaphors and the narrative details of the biblical story of the formation of the Israelite nation, she has teased out of the text a compelling biography."--Robert Alter, Professor of Hebrew and Comparative Literature, University of California, Berkeley

"Ilana Pardes elegantly recasts the mythic story of Israel's emergence as the story of the birth, individuation, initiation, and maturity of an emergent subject. Ambivalences, deferrals, power struggles, and multiple memories all characterize Israel's development and the stories told about it. Through a set of close and graceful readings, Pardes persuasively argues that the first five books of the Bible constitute, not the history, but the biography of a nation." --Elizabeth A. Castelli, Barnard College, author of Imitating Paul: A Discourse of Power

"The book of books has generated many other works, but Ilana Pardes's The Biography of Ancient Israel is in a class by itself. In beautiful, spare prose, she reconstructs the way the biblical authors imagined the history of ancient Israel. Artfully weaving literary and psychological insights, she has given us an entirely fresh view of the Bible as original as it is brilliant. This is a book for every reader of the Bible who wishes 'to wrest tradition away from a conformism that is about to overpower it.'"--David Biale, author of Eros and the Jews

"This is a wonderful book and a delight to read. The idea of treating the exodus story as a collective biography is quite original, and makes possible a genuinely illuminating reading of the story."--Michael Walzer, author of Exodus and Revolution

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About the author (2000)

Ilana Pardes is an Professor of Comparative Literature at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. She is the author of Countertraditions in the Bible: A Feminist Approach (1992).