About the Book
2023 Top Five Reference Book from the Academy of Parish Clergy
The Torah is truly the Book of Revolutions, born from a military coup (the Northern Israelite revolution), the aftermath of an assassination and regency (a Judean revolution), and a quiet but radical revolution effected by outsiders whose ideas proved persuasive (Babylonian exile). Emerging from each of these were three key legal codes—the Covenant Code (Exodus), the Deuteronomic Code (Deuteronomy), and the Holiness Code (Leviticus)—which in turn shaped the Bible, biblical Judaism, and Judaism today.
In dramatic historical accounts grounded in recent Bible scholarship, Edward Feld unveils the epic saga of ancient Israel as the visionary legacy of inspired authors in different times and places. Prophetic teaching and differing social realities shaped new understandings concretized in these law codes. Revolutionary biblical ideas often encountered great difficulties in their time before they triumphed. Eventually master editors wove the threads together, intentionally preserving competing narratives and law codes. Ultimately, the Torah is an emblem of pluralistic belief born of revolutionary moments that preserved spiritual realities that continue to speak powerfully to us today.
“Edward Feld’s new book, The Book of Revolutions: The Battles of Priests, Prophets, and Kings That Birthed the Torah (JPS), is such a spectacular resource—so much so, that I confess that I could not put it down. . . . Move over Game of Thrones. There is far more intrigue here than we had ever imagined.”—Religion News Service
“Feld displays a remarkable talent for balancing accessible language with depth of thought and rigorous research, all while exercising a penetrating insight for how ancient conflicts factor into contemporary discourse. Stellar scholarship makes this an essential religious and cultural history.”—Publishers Weekly, starred review
“Feld’s mode of unpacking [biblical] history is unique. . . . He suggests that these legal [texts of the Torah], which were not edited for cohesion as the narrative sections were, demonstrate. . . a revolution in the religious progression of the Israelites. . . . The accessibility of Feld’s writing, and the conclusions he draws about how today’s Judaism is a product of these revolutions, makes The Book of Revolutions a valuable addition to the bookshelves of lay readers and academics alike.”—Jonathan Fass, Jewish Book Council
“The weaving together of solid academics and committed religiosity, scholarly hypothesis and lived faith, makes this book a gem among the many volumes devoted to the study of the Pentateuch. And a Christian reader has much to learn.”
“A pleasure to read. Those readers who are biblically literate will find the author’s reconstruction of the Torah’s composition fascinating. Those beginning a study of the Torah could find no better way to begin the encounter with the Bible’s foundational texts.”—Bible Today
“[A] really superb book. . . . I was so deeply impressed. . . . The book is so truly rich that no reasonably sized review can do justice to all of the questions that it raises. Indeed, I have already pressed the manuscript on friends with whom I hope to discuss the book at some length.”—Tikkun
“Feld insists that Jews ‘have not grasped the Torah’s truths in their entirety because the parts do not ultimately quite fit together.’ The same is true for Christians and the New Testament. But it’s the very effort to grasp that helps make the life of faith so lively and fascinating. That’s what makes this book appropriate for anyone with a solid knowledge of Scripture, as well as a hunger to know more. And readers familiar with scholar Amy-Jill Levine’s writings that place Christianity in its Jewish context will find Feld’s book especially useful.”—Presbyterian Outlook