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Review of Biblical Literature Blog

Argonauts of the Desert: Structural Analysis of the Hebrew Bible
Wajdenbaum, Philippe

Sheffield: Equinox, 2011 pp. xii + 324. $99.95

Series Information
Copenhagen International Seminar

Description: Argonauts of the Desert explains through a comparative analysis based on the structural method of anthropologist Claude Lévi-Strauss, how most of the stories and many laws of the Bible were inspired by Greek literature. The books from Genesis to Kings may have been written by a single author, a Hellenized Judean scholar, who used Plato’s ideal State in the Laws as a primary source of inspiration. As such, biblical Israel is a recreation of that twelve tribes State, governed solely by divine law. Most stories surrounding the birth, life and death of that State were inspired by Greek epics, such as the Argonauts, Thebes, Heracles and Troy, as well as by Herodotus’ Histories. Previous paradigms dealing with the origins of the Old Testament, such as the documentary hypothesis, are rejected in this demonstration. The main chapters are set in the order of the books from Genesis to Kings, each of which presents biblical stories or laws and compares them with their Greek or Roman equivalents. For each story, there is a discussion of similarities and differences. Through this demonstration, the reader comes to understand how the Bible was written and influenced by Greek literature. The book can be read as a commentary on the Bible in light of its Greek sources, to an extent that has not been attempted before.

Subjects: Bible, Hebrew Bible / Old Testament, Literature, Methods, Social Scientific Approaches, Anthropology


Review by Casper J. Labuschagne
Read the Review
Published 4/23/2013
Citation: Casper J. Labuschagne, review of Philippe Wajdenbaum, Argonauts of the Desert: Structural Analysis of the Hebrew Bible, Review of Biblical Literature [http://www.bookreviews.org] (2013).


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