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Not Scattered or Confused

Rethinking the Urban World of the Hebrew Bible

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Westminster John Knox Press
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The Hebrew Bible displays a complicated attitude toward cities. Much of the story tells of a rural, agrarian society, yet those stories were written by people living in urban environments. Moreover, cities frequently appear in a negative light; the Hebrew slaves in the book of Exodus were forced to build cities, and the book of Samuel’s critique of monarchy assumes an urban setting that supports that monarchy. At the same, time Ezra-Nehemiah makes restoration of Jerusalem and its wall a holy priority, and Genesis 1–11 (and subsequent references to the primeval narrative) show a much more layered view of the dangers and opportunities of the urban context. As the world’s population continues to move into cities and we debate the impact on human life and the natural environment, it becomes increasingly important to know how the biblical writers understood the ways in which urban life enhances and disrupts human thriving. In this book, McEntire offers a comprehensive and hopeful understanding of the Bible and the city.

Mark McEntire is Professor of Biblical Studies at Belmont University in Nashville. He is the author of several important books on the Hebrew Bible, including Portraits of a Mature God: Choices in Old Testament Theologyand A Chorus of Prophetic Voices: Introducing the Prophetic Literature of Ancient Israel.

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“This erudite but eminently readable study of the Bible’s complicated attitude toward cities is fresh and insightful and of potential interest to a wide variety of readers, specialist and non-specialist alike.” – The Bible Today 

“This is a fascinating exploration of how urban perspectives influenced the writers of the Hebrew Bible and related literature. Mark McEntire offers a fresh reading of Genesis 1-11, paying close attention to ‘city’ language in these famous narratives. His discussion of Jubilees is a brilliant move and will be helpful for those who are not familiar with the content of this later work. As he works through the ancient texts, McEntire keeps his eye on our contemporary context and the pitfalls of urbanization and gentrification. This creative study demonstrates that the Bible has a lot more to say about cities and urban living than we might assume.” –Samuel L. Adams, McNair Chair of Biblical Studies, Union Presbyterian Seminary

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