New book dives into Jewish legend, interprets for Christian readers
Thursday, October 31, 2013
Whimsy, Scripture and storytelling come together in a new publication about rabbinic wisdom.
Joel Allen, assistant professor of religion at Dakota Wesleyan University, recently published “Jewish Biblical Legends: Rabbinic Wisdom for Christian Readers,” through Cascade Books.
“It describes the way rabbis of old interpreted the Bible often by telling background stories that put the written version into a new light,” Allen said.
Allen earned his Ph.D. at Hebrew Union College – Institute of Religion in Cincinnati, Ohio, in a program created to train rabbis. He studied Rabbinic biblical interpretation called “Midrash.”
“I was amazed that I, as a seminary graduate, didn’t even know these rabbinic traditions existed,” he said. “The other Christian Ph.D. students and I would often comment to each other how completely unfamiliar we were with this fascinating literature and how much fun it was to read.
“I was also, at that time, serving a small United Methodist Church in Kentucky where I found myself regularly telling my congregation these stories and legends to their delight. I checked around and found that the last introduction for Christians was written in 1958. I decided way back in about 1998 that when I completed my dissertation, I would write this book. Now I have.”
“Jewish Biblical Legends: Rabbinic Wisdom for Christian Readers” is available in the DWU Campus Bookstore, located in the McGovern Library, at the Readers Den in Mitchell, as well as online at www.wipfandstock.com, and in a few weeks at www.cokesbury.com and www.amazon.com.
Dakota Wesleyan University will also be offering its second travel experience to Israel this spring. Allen led a group through the Holy Land in 2012 and will take another group on a 10-day tour March 6-18, 2014, which will include stops at Nazareth, Bethlehem, Capernaum and Jerusalem, as well as every sea connected with the Bible: the Mediterranean, Dead Sea, Galilee and the Red Sea. For more information, visit www.dwu.edu/alumnivisitors/alumni/traveltoisrael/ to download a brochure, or contact Allen at firstname.lastname@example.org. The cost of the all-inclusive trip is $4,598.