River Jordan: The Mythology of a Dividing Line

Rachel S. Havrelock
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River Jordan: The Mythology of a Dividing Line
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Robert Alter writes:

Rachel Havrelock’s River Jordan is broad in scope, subtle in interpretive detail and written in lucid prose, with an assured mastery of the relevant scholarship – all the more remarkable because it is her first book. What she has done in effect is to invent a new kind of historical analysis, which I would call cultural cartography, with culture comprising ideology and politics as well as national identity. Everyone remembers that the Jordan River in the Bible marks the eastern border of the Promised Land. The biblical narrative at numerous points makes much of the crucial verb ‘to cross over’ in relation to the Jordan, and it is of course Moses’s fate to remain on the far side, looking out on the land from the east. The biblical picture, however, is much more complicated than this, as Havrelock shows.

(LRB 21 June 2012)

Published by University of Chicago Press
01 December 2011
ISBN: 9780226319575