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Longing for Egypt and Other Unexpected Biblical Tales
Diana Lipton
Publication Date
August 2008


Readers of all persuasions, even secular academics, have a tendency to privilege simple, “faith-deepening” interpretations over complex, unsettling, readings. The more fraught the issue, the more often we find in the history of interpretation that a simple reading has been generated that masks its complexity.

Longing for Egypt and Other Tales of the Unexpected explores seven cases of textual complexity masked by simple readings. One chapter uncovers a counter-intuitive longing for Egypt alongside the Exodus account of liberation from persecution. Another shows how what appears to be a critical attitude in the Bible towards other gods may reflect inner-Israelite tensions rather than some principled antipathy toward others. Yet another confronts the praise of God as a perfect king with the use of the language of divine kingship as a vehicle for constructive criticism.

All seven chapters share a focus on the formation of identity. Arguably the Bible's most sensitive subject, for its authors and for present-day readers, this topic has generated a host of simple readings that conceal immense complexity.

Diana Lipton is Lecturer in Hebrew Bible and Jewish Studies at King's College, London.

The SBL is the North American distributor for Sheffield Phoenix Press. Customers outside of North America can purchase this book directly from Sheffield Phoenix by clicking here.