Friday, November 24, 2023

Q&A with A.D. Levine



A.D. Levine is the author of the book The Seeds of Scripture: The Beginnings of the Bible. A retired research librarian, he lives on the East Coast.


Q: What inspired you to write The Seeds of Scripture


A: I attended a “Bible Drama” class during a meeting of the Jewish Theatre Association. Participants chose a scene from the bible. Since we knew the characters and the plot, we could improvise the dialog. 


I chose the scene where Jacob meets Pharaoh. Originally, I thought this was going to be a play, but I realized it would work better as a book. 


Q: How did you research the book, and did you learn anything that especially surprised you?


A: I wanted to combine the facts of biblical scholarship with Jewish folklore. There is no shortage of books on biblical scholarship. I consulted E.A. Speiser, Nahum Sarna, Robert Alter, Hirsch and others.


For the folklore side, I found a valuable reference in the series Me’Am Loez by Rabbi Jacob Kuli. It is an encyclopedic series on the bible written in Spain in the 1700s. The original purpose was to preserve the knowledge, customs, and folklore of what was left of Spanish Jewry. 


Q: How was the book’s title chosen, and what does it signify for you?


A: The original title was Dawn of Scripture. An article I read suggested the best titles used alliteration. Example, The Wind in the Willows, The Prince and the Pauper, Of Mice and Men.


The word “seeds” seems to suggest beginnings and yet-to-be realized potential. So “seeds” it was, and I think that fits the bill.


Q: What do you hope readers take away from The Seeds of Scripture?


A: I would hope that, after reading my book, readers would gain a different perspective on the book of Genesis. 


For Genesis readers, I would hope my book would illuminate background and details of the personalities and customs. I hope readers will gain a new appreciation of the book of Genesis.   


Q: What are you working on now?


A: I’m working on a series of young adult novels, Seraphina Katz: Building Israel. The main character, Seraphina, time travels along with Elijah the Prophet. In each novel Seraphina becomes an eyewitness to momentous or important events in Israel’s history.


The first book in this series, Seraphina Katz In the Land Before the First Aliyah, has already been completed.  


Q: Anything else we should know?


A: I’ve been reading reports of antisemitism on college campuses for the last few years and noticed how the Jewish students were woefully unprepared to answer the accusations against Israel.


I started writing the Seraphina series as a way for middle schoolers to have a bit of fun and gain the knowledge they need to counter the misinformation so prevalent on the campus today. 


When I started writing it, campus antisemitism was an issue flying under the radar. Since Oct. 7, I think the need for such a series has grown.


--Interview with Deborah Kalb

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