In the Greco-Roman period there arose among the Jews a new form for retelling Bible stories and for composing new religious storiesthe novel. Written around the time of the Dead Sea Scrolls and New Testament, these worldly texts reveal the ambiguities and conflicts encountered by Jews of that period. Some of the texts here are well known, while others will be totally new to modern readers. Some are developed novels, while others are rudimentary fragments. Taken together, they constitute a marvelous laboratory for uncovering how popular novels arose in the ancient world, and contribute greatly to our understanding of Jewish culture and classical civilization. In fresh, lively translations by Professor Lawrence M. Wills, included are texts from the Jewish apocrypha such as Judith and Tobit, several historical novels and selections from the Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs.
In the Meantime follows the lives of three characters who meet in 1931 at the age of five in their small, Midwestern hometown, become friends and dream of a better life. After World War II, they follow their dreams to New York City, where their experiences prove that not even Manhattan is exempt from the nationalism, racism and mean-spiritedness so prevalent in 1950s America-if not still today. Their triad ismirrored by another three friends in Hiroshima on the day the atomic bomb was dropped, and by a trio of Jews hiding in Nazi-occupied Amsterdam. The brevity of the novel replicates the brevity of every human life. At the book's end, some seventy years after it began, only one of the nine remains to tell the story of their lives, and of what happened in the meantime.
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