We are currently making improvements to the Audible site. In an effort to enhance the accessibility experience for our customers, we have created a page to more easily navigate the new experience, available at the web address www.audible.com/access.
In the Valley of the Shadow: On the Foundations of Religious Belief | [James L. Kugel]

In the Valley of the Shadow: On the Foundations of Religious Belief

When James L. Kugel, one of the world's leading biblical scholars, was diagnosed with an aggressive, likely fatal form of cancer, he said, "I was, of course, disturbed and worried. But the main change in my state of mind was that the background music suddenly stopped. Now I was just down to myself, one little person, sitting in the late summer sun, with only a few things left to do."
Regular Price:$20.99
  • Membership Details:
    • First book free with 30-day trial
    • $14.95/month thereafter for your choice of 1 new book each month
    • Cancel easily anytime
    • Exchange books you don't like
    • All selected books are yours to keep, even if you cancel
  • - or -

Your Likes make Audible better!

'Likes' are shared on Facebook and Audible.com. We use your 'likes' to improve Audible.com for all our listeners.

You can turn off Audible.com sharing from your Account Details page.

OK

Audible Editor Reviews

A Harvard University Professor Emeritus and Chair of the Institute for the History of the Jewish Bible at Bar Ilan University in Israel, there is no more respected or comprehensive authority on Biblical studies than James L. Kugel. He is the author of more than a dozen seminal books on various aspects of the Judeo-Christian tradition, including The Bible as It Was, which won the prestigious Grawemeyer Award in 2001. An Orthodox Jew, Kugel has long been noted for taking a surprisingly fair and inclusive view on a variety of Biblical interpretations, and it is precisely this warm and welcoming perspective that makes In the Valley of the Shadow such a useful book.

George K. Wilson is the perfect narrator for this tone of spirited openness, well-practiced as he is in nonfiction voice work, having narrated more than 100 books. Kugel was prompted by his own cancer diagnosis to undertake a study of the religious basis for the feeling of smallness produced by his fatal prognosis, a subject that certainly requires Wilson’s impeccable gravitas. When faced with the real prospect of our own death, each and every one of us pretty much arrives at a profound sense of silence and has trouble coping with the fact of our insignificance. Charting the course of such an idea in human history is no easy task, and Kugel riffs off a wide assortment of roots for this phenomenon, from neuroscience to sociology to poetry to gospel.

Kugel’s ultimate argument is that this is a universal feeling, and an appropriate foundation for the contemplation of God. Skeptics and devotees alike will appreciate the mystical sense of unraveling in Wilson’s interpretation. In the end, religion is more of an experience than a dogma. Wilson’s very distinguished job of conveying Kugel’s insight into the matter makes this a worthy listen. —Megan Volpert

Publisher's Summary

When James L. Kugel, one of the world's leading biblical scholars, was diagnosed with an aggressive, likely fatal form of cancer, he said, "I was, of course, disturbed and worried. But the main change in my state of mind was that the background music suddenly stopped. Now I was just down to myself, one little person, sitting in the late summer sun, with only a few things left to do." He recognized that same feeling of smallness expressed in many early religious writings, and in the months that followed, he began a journey of discovery, reexamining the most basic questions about the origins of religion and its universality, which had taken on immediate and vital importance for him.

Weaving reflections on his own struggle---the love of his family became "as tangible as bread"---with the writings of anthropologists, neuroscientists, and poets, he leads listeners from prehistoric religious practices to the religious doubts of modern times via an amazing array of topics: the eerie starkness of medieval cathedral architecture; the "looming Outside" revealed in African witchcraft; biblical encounters with angels; gospel album covers; and---through it all---the peculiar "sense of smallness" that, he argues, characterizes how all humans used to conceive of themselves. Kugel's look at the whole phenomenon of religion is rigorously honest, often funny, sometimes skeptical, but ultimately a deeply moving affirmation of faith in God. Believers and doubters alike will be struck by its combination of objective scholarship and poetic insight---a beautifully crafted consideration of life's greatest mystery.

©2011 James L. Kugel (P)2011 Tantor

What the Critics Say

"Propounds a stark and challenging thesis, namely that contemporary Bible readers are confronted with two radically different ways of approaching Scripture and that both approaches are impressive and admirable---and fundamentally incompatible. Professor Kugel is a rare master of both approaches.... The journey is fascinating." (The New York Times)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.3 (3 )
5 star
 (1)
4 star
 (0)
3 star
 (1)
2 star
 (1)
1 star
 (0)
Overall
4.0 (1 )
5 star
 (0)
4 star
 (1)
3 star
 (0)
2 star
 (0)
1 star
 (0)
Story
4.0 (1 )
5 star
 (0)
4 star
 (1)
3 star
 (0)
2 star
 (0)
1 star
 (0)
Performance
Sort by:
  •  
    J. Heller 02-20-12
    J. Heller 02-20-12 Member Since 2005
    HELPFUL VOTES
    1
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    1
    1
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "excellent"
    If you could sum up In the Valley of the Shadow in three words, what would they be?

    insightful amd thought provoking


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Jim Kugel - he is the victim


    Which scene was your favorite?

    winning prize payable over multiple years at time when he thought he would die quickly


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

    what fools we mortals be


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Showing: 1-1 of 1 results

    There are no listener reviews for this title yet.

Report Inappropriate Content

If you find this review inappropriate and think it should be removed from our site, let us know. This report will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.

CANCEL

Thank You

Your report has been received. It will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.