I was pleased to have the opportunity to review for the Bulletin of Biblical Research my friend and fellow blogger John Anderson’s book, Jacob and the Divine Trickster: A Theology of Deception and YHWH’s Fidelity to the Ancestral Promise in the Jacob Cycle (whew—what a title!), and I am happy to recommend the book (see another review here).
To state it simply, John has read the Jacob story. This may not seem like much of a compliment, but John demonstrates in his book that too many people in reading the Jacob cycle read an interpreted Bible, the Bible as it has been interpreted and handed down to us by our culture and interpretive traditions. Reading John’s book alongside the Hebrew text of the Jacob cycle made me feel like I was reading what the text is actually getting at for the first time. If, in your reading of the Jacob cycle, you have encountered an individual whose deceptive tendencies mar his character and who ultimately needs to be straightened out by God (in a divine wrestling match, no less), you might consider acquiring a copy of John’s book and giving it a read. Discovering John’s (and Jacob’s) “divine trickster” may actually end up straightening you out!