Approaching the text in the spirit of pensive philosophy, Kass explicates scripture verse by verse, illuminating the way the factious tribal family of Jacob (Israel) acquires a new collective identity as a people, a nation forged by a shared narrative of miraculous deliverance from slavery, a shared moral code revealed at Sinai, and, finally, a shared holy place for worship ... In his epilogue, Kass draws from Exodus’ record of the founding of Judaism timely—even urgent—universal lessons about twenty-first-century preconditions for human flourishing in any community. Compelling modern reflections on ancient wisdom.
The author states that in this time of national strife, Exodus is a blueprint for national unity that is accessible for everyone, including atheists. Perhaps so, but his interpretive decisions might give biblical scholars pause. Rather than parsing out sources, Kass reads Exodus as a single, tightly composed work with no attempt to locate the original audience. Are we to imagine Exodus to be very early or much later? If later, would not Exodus be an idealized history, giving no indication of what actually forged an enslaved people into that unique nation that continues to flourish after so many others have fallen forgotten? ... Primarily for readers seeking a conclusion to the author’s previous work.
Taking a line-by-line approach, the analysis will be accessible even to those unfamiliar with Exodus ... However, having been invited to explore universal questions, many readers may struggle with Kass’s answers, both in the conclusions and lessons he sees reflected in Exodus ... Despite this, general readers interested in the Hebrew Bible will get much from Kass’s trenchant work.