Review: The Twice-Told Tale

34640459The Twice-Told Tale: Parallels in the Bible is an English rendition of Abba Bendavid’s infamous work Parallels in the Bible—a collation of parallel accounts from the Hebrew Bible. Bendavid is an accomplished Hebraist and respected linguist, and author of Biblical Hebrew and Mishnaic Hebrew (Tel Aviv, 1967).

The Twice-Told Tale begins with an introduction by Mordechai Cogan. Cogan is professor emeritus of Biblical History at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem and author of numerous books, including The Raging Torrent: Historical Inscriptions from Assyria and Babylonia Relating to Ancient Israel (2nd edition; Carta, 2016). Cogan is also the editor to the present volume, and the introduction, though brief, provides a rationale for the choices therein.

There is much to be celebrated about this volume. For starters, it is both comprehensible and exhaustive. The reader is able to easily find the desired text and analyze the various parallels which mark the Hebrew Bible. There are also numerous pages dedicated to the content layout to help cultivate the usefulness of the volume for future reference. Readers that are familiar with Gospel Parallels: A Comparison of the Synoptic Gospels by Burton H. Throckmorton or Synopsis of the Four Gospels by Kurt Aland will find the navigational concept of The Twice-Told Tale similar.

The above celebrations are not without a number of shortcomings. First, and probably foremost, while Cogan does offer justification for the decision in the introduction, the use of the KJV is somewhat of a disappointing choice for a volume of this scope. Cogan advises that the use of the KJV is primarily due to the literalness of the translation, but there are numerous literal translations on the market that would more aptly appeal to a target audience. KJV is a safe choice, but likely not the best choice. Second, the organization can get cluttered and distracting at points where there are multiple parallels on display. A wider footprint could have provided more real-estate and offered a more user-friendly experience. Lastly, the use of roman numerals to designate chapter divisions is another somewhat confusing editorial choice. It will certainly be an unnecessary hurdle for some readers.

The Twice-Told Tale: Parallels in the Bible by Abba Bendavid is an excellent and trustworthy resource. It permits readers to identify the duplications, differences, and silences in the parallel accounts, and allows them draw conclusion from the variant verses. Mordechai Cogan has done an admirable service bringing this volume to the English-speaking world, and despite the shortcomings above, it is a highly recommended resource. It will encourage readers to search deep and understand wider, and should thus be consulted often.

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