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The Hidden Face Of God Paperback – Nov 14 1996


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Harperone; Reissue edition (Nov. 14 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 006062258X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060622589
  • Product Dimensions: 13.5 x 2 x 20.3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 336 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #791,918 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

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The Hidden Face of God is a record of biblical scholar Richard Elliott Friedman's attempts to understand why, after God tells Moses in Deuteronomy, "I shall hide my face from them," God proceeds to disappear from the face of the earth. "Gradually through the course of the Hebrew Bible ... the deity appears less and less to humans, speaks less and less. Miracles, angels, and all other signs of divine presence become rarer and finally cease," Friedman writes. This freewheeling work of biblical and cultural criticism considers the ways modern writers such as Friedrich Nietzsche have continued to develop the idea that "we are finally utterly on our own," wrestles with the insecurities, moral ambiguities, and spiritual doubts that modernism has aggravated, and looks to contemporary science and Jewish mysticism for some clues as to how God's absence may in fact be His way of showing His presence. Without ever lapsing into intellectual laziness or maudlin sentiment, Friedman provides an accessible survey of some of this century's biggest moral dilemmas. And within those dilemmas themselves, Friedman finds hope. --Michael Joseph Gross

About the Author

Richard Elliott Friedman is professor of Hebrew and Comparative Literature and holds the Katzin Chair at the University of California, San Diego. One of the premier biblical scholars in the country, he received his doctorate at Harvard and was a visiting fellow at Oxford and Cambridge. Author of The Hidden Face of God, The Hidden Book in the Bible, Commentary on the Torah, The Exile and Biblical Narrative, and the bestselling Who Wrote the Bible?, Friedman is also the president of the Biblical Colloquium West. A consultant to universities, journals, encyclopedias, and publishers, he is also the editor of four books on biblical studies and has authored over fifty articles, reviews, and notes in scholarly and popular publications.


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By Pieter Uys HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWER on Feb. 11 2008
Format: Paperback
In this absorbing work, Freedman investigates 3 mysteries concerning the presence/absence of God. The first part deals with the gradual disappearance of the visible presence of God throughout the Old Testament, part two considers Nietzsche and Dostoevsky's experience of this phenomenon and their premonitions of the future, whilst the last part examines correspondences between religion and science in view of the return or rediscovery of God.

The author traces the diminishing presence of the deity through the course of the Hebrew Bible, showing how the nature of communication changes from visible to indirect whilst signs of the divine, like miracles, become rarer, finally ceasing altogether. A related development is a shift in the balance of control in human destiny - a transition from divine to human responsibility. This is observed in the actions of Adam & Eve, through Noah who builds the ark himself, Abraham who even challenges a decision of God, through Moses and down to the Book of Esther where the name of God is not even mentioned overtly. As the author notes, it is the apparent control that is shifting.

The same phenomenon is evident in the non-historical books. The prophets encounter the divine through dreams and visions - not face to face like in earlier times - and their impressions are filtered through their own personalities. Some prophets like Isaiah are explicit about the absence of God, and the promise of reunion. This is also reflected in the Psalms. The word of God now takes the place of the acts of God. Scholars have not paid enough attention to the growing human role during the receding visibility of the deity. This is especially remarkable as the phenomenon appears with chronological consistency in a narrative composed by many authors over many centuries.
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Format: Paperback
If all politics is local then all religion may well be biographical. This putative maxim is very much on display in this interesing intriguing work in which Richard Friedman departs from his usual fare of biblical exegis to the related -- but different -- area of theological speculation. Through his other books, Who Wrote the Bible, The Bible with Sources Revealed to name a couple we find a confident scholarly Friedman wielding his knowledge of biblical Hebrew and text analysis to lock pick the secrets of the Bible. He can rightly be regarded as nothing less than the expert on source theory. This skill shows itself in the development of this book wherein Friedman tackles three interesting problems in turn. The first, his discovery of the "disappearance" of God from Torah is by far the most confidently written. As can be seen by reading the Bible shorn of the New Testament, one sees a biblical story wherein the characters have progressively less and less interaction with God. In the beginning God ordains creation itself and causes Adam and Eve live in His garden. After the expulsion, Noah is spared the destruction of His world. After the flood, Abraham receives His call and Moses saves his nation. So from creation, to the destruction of a global deluge to the saving of people we observe a definite pattern of less human contact with God. Friedman's second problem stems from his analysis of the "God is dead" craze wherein this loss of contact came to find home in the now passe assertion that "God is dead." Friedman's third interesting problem relates to the similarity between contemporary notions of the origin of the universe and Kabbalah. It is at this point Friedman's theology reflects the hearty benefits of good education.Read more ›
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Format: Paperback
In THE HIDDEN FACE OF GOD, Richard Elliot Friedman tackles three interrelated mysteries. The first mystery concerns the disappearance of God in the Hebrew Bible or Old Testament. Using God's words to Moses ("I shall hide my face from them. I shall see what their end will be.") as a touchstone, Friedman traces the distance travelled from the early pages of the Old Testament where God manifests Himself directly to people, to the book of Esther which does not even mention God. Then he turns to the struggle with God, reminding us that "Israel" - the name God gives to Jacob - means "one who fights with God". Turning conventional wisdom on its head, Friedman points out that while God was a matter of belief for later biblical generations (as for us), when God regularly appeared to his prophets and people - remember that God was present to the whole Hebrew people day and night for 40 years while they wandered in the wilderness! - when there was no need to "believe" because God was right before their eyes, they chose to argue, rebel and disobey. I had never noticed this obvious fact before: that major prophets argue with God in the Old Testament and even make suggestions as to how He might conduct Himself vis-a-vis humans. Even more astonishing is that God usually takes their advice! Friedman concludes his discussion of this first mystery with a chapter on the twin developments of rabbinical Judaism and Christianity as they relate to the concept of "divine hiddenness".
The second mystery concerns Nietzsche's descent into madness, a passage from Dostoevsky's CRIME AND PUNISHMENT and the 'death of God' in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. For Friedman, this moment represents our species' coming of age.
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