The Forgotten Books of the Bible: Recovering the Five Scrolls for Today

Robert Williamson Jr.

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You're probably missing out on some of the most interesting books of the Bible.

In the Jewish tradition, the five books known as the Five Scrolls perform a central liturgical function as the texts associated with each of the major holidays. The Song of Songs is read during Passover, Ruth during Shavuot, Lamentations on Tisha B'av, Ecclesiastes during Sukkot, and Esther during the celebration of Purim. Together with the five books of the Torah, these texts orient Jewish life and provide the language of the faith.

In the Christian tradition, by contrast, these books have largely been forgotten. Many churchgoers can't even find them in their pew Bibles. They are rarely preached, come up only occasionally in the lectionary, and are not the subject of Bible studies. Thus, their influence on the lives and theology of many Christians is entirely negligible. But they deserve much more attention. With scholarly wisdom and a quick wit, Williamson insists that these books speak urgently to the pressing issues of the contemporary world. Addressing themes of human sexuality, grief, immigration, suffering and protest, ethnic nationalism, and existential dread, he skillfully guides readers as they rediscover the relevance of the Five Scrolls for today.