The Great Shift: Encountering God in Biblical Times by James L. Kugel
A great mystery lies at the heart of the Bible. Early on, people seem to live in a world entirely foreign to our own. God appears to Abraham and Sarah, Jacob and others; God buttonholes Moses and Isaiah and Jeremiah and tells them what to say. Then comes the Great Shift, and Israelites stop seeing God or hearing the divine voice. Instead, later Israelites are “in search of God,” reaching out to a distant, omniscient deity in prayers, as people have done ever since. What brought about this change?
The answers come from ancient texts, archaeology and anthropology, and even modern neuroscience. They concern the origins of the modern sense of self and the birth of a worldview that has been ours ever since. James Kugel, whose strong religious faith shines through his scientific reckoning with the Bible and the ancient world, has written a masterwork that will be of interest to believers and nonbelievers alike, a profound meditation on encountering God, then and now.