Opening with the prophet Elijah’s ascent into heaven and closing with the people of Judah’s descent to Babylonia, 2 Kings charts the story of the two Israelite kingdoms until their destruction. This commentary unfolds the literary dimensions of 2 Kings, analyzes the strategies through which its words create a world of meaning, and examines the book’s tales of prophets, political intrigue, royal apostasy, and religious reform as components of larger patterns.
2 Kings pays attention to the writers’ methods of representing human character and of twisting chronological time for literary purposes. It also shows how the contests between kings and prophets are mirrored in the competing structures of regnal synchronization and prophecy-fulfillment. Much more than a common chronicle of royal achievements and disasters, 2 Kings emerges as a powerful history that creates memories and forges identities for its Jewish readers.
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This book is meant to be an aid to readers of an English version of the Hebrew Bible and to be read alongside it. Toward this end, the commentary on most of the longer segments is keyed to a structural outline of that episode. This is a tremendous asset, particularly for casual Bible readers and students finding their way through this labyrinth of strange-sounding names and superabundant detail. . . . Cohn affirms at the outset that ‘[t]he aim of a literary commentary is not the sources, but the discourse’ (xii). He delivers with interesting, often insightful, and invariably useful comments, often pointing out meaningful word order and assonance in the Hebrew original.
—W. Boyd Barrick, former dean and religious studies instructor, Montana State University–Billings
Robert L. Cohn is professor of religion and holds the Philip and Muriel Berman Chair in Jewish studies at Lafayette College. Under the auspices of the American Jewish Committee, he lectured on Jewish interpretations of the Bible as the first American-Jewish scholar-in-residence at four Roman Catholic seminaries in Poland.