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Portraits through the Ages

Alan T. Levenson

Publisher: University of Nebraska Press
Imprint: The Jewish Publication Society
Published: 09/2016
Pages: 304
Subject: Religion
eBook ISBN: 9780827612921


The complex and dramatic story of Joseph is the most sustained narrative in Genesis. Many call it a literary masterpiece and a story of great depth that can be read on many levels. In a lucid and engaging style, Alan T. Levenson brings the voices of Philo, Josephus, Midrash, and medieval commentators, as well as a wide range of modern scholars, into dialogue about this complex biblical figure. Levenson explores such questions as: Why did Joseph's brothers hate him so? What is achieved by Joseph's ups and downs on the path to extraordinary success? Why didn't Joseph tell his father he was alive and ruling Egypt? What was Joseph like as a husband and father? Was Joseph just or cruel in testing his brothers' characters? Levenson deftly shows how an unbroken chain of interpretive traditions, mainly literary but also artistic, have added to the depth of this fascinating and unique character.    


Alan T. Levenson is the Schusterman/Josey Professor of Jewish History at the University of Oklahoma. He is the author or editor of numerous essays and books, including The Making of the Modern Jewish Bible: How Scholars in Germany, Israel, and America Transformed an Ancient Text; An Introduction to Modern Jewish Thinkers; and Between Philosemitism and Antisemitism: Defenses of Jews and Judaism in Germany, 1871–1932 (Nebraska, 2013).


"An exciting book. Levenson has a wonderful ability to distill classic and contemporary scholarship and mix it with his own original insights in language every reader will find easy to grasp."—Marc Lee Raphael, Nathan Gumenick Chair of Judaic Studies at the College of William and Mary  

"There is simply no other book quite like this. Levenson's multilayered treatment of the Joseph story, with its Jewish focus and non-Jewish insights interwoven throughout, gives readers the feeling they are being engaged in intimate conversation. Highly recommended."—Norman A. Stillman, author of The Jews of Arab Lands in Modern Times