The Book of Numbers: A Critique of Genesis Calum Carmichael

Publication date:
26 Jun 2012
Yale University Press
216 pages: 235 x 156 x 19mm
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In this work Calum Carmichael—a legal scholar who applies a literary approach to the study of the Bible—shows how each law and each narrative in Numbers, the least researched book in the Pentateuch, responds to problems arising in narrative incidents in Genesis. The book continues Carmichael’s process of demonstrating how every law in the Pentateuch is a response to a problem arising in a biblical narrative, not to an inferred societal situation.

Calum Carmichael, professor of comparative literature and adjunct professor of law at Cornell University, is the author of Sex and Religion in the Bible. He lives in Ithaca, NY.

“Carmichael brilliantly applies his now well-known literary-legal techniques to the most puzzling and least studied of the Five Books of Moses.  The latest in a long series of highly original and challenging studies, this book persuasively demonstrates that problems in biblical law and narrative can often be solved more convincingly by meticulous literary analysis than by the customary hypothetical reconstructions of life in ancient societies.”—John F. A. Sawyer, Lancaster University

“Challenging aspects of the deeply embedded “historical-critical method,” this innovative study proposes that the text emerges not from the “one damn thing after another” of history, but from a disciplined literary process of purposefully reworking earlier texts.  The result, implicitly, is to propose a new paradigm for the composition and nature of the biblical text.”—Thomas Brodie, Director, Dominican Biblical Centre, Limerick, Ireland

“Carmichael tackles a difficult task with verve and flair, further developing his ideas about intertextuality.  He makes a rather plausible case for understanding many incongruities in the Biblical texts.”—Herbert B. Huffmon, Drew University