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Bound for Freedom

The Book of Exodus in Jewish and Christian Traditions

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"Larsson brings the long history of Jewish interpretations to correct and inform contemporary Christian understanding of this part of the Bible [Exodus] so crucial to both traditions. And he does so in a beautifully spiritual key."--Krister Stendahl, Harvard Divinity School; Bishop emeritus, Church of Sweden

Bound for Freedom demonstrates that the book of Exodus presents a defining act of liberation not only in Judaism, but also in the Christian understanding of salvation history. That defining act, Larsson argues, takes place at Sinai with the giving of the Torah. Thus Exodus is not about unconditional freedom; rather, as the title of this book suggests, there is no freedom without boundaries. While doing justice to the historical setting of Exodus, Larsson stresses the history of theological interpretation, beginning with early Jewish interpretive traditions. The results illustrate both the vitality of those traditions and the spiritual and moral relevance of Exodus for today's reader.


"Few scholars could have written this book. Göran Larsson is one of them, and we can only say that he is a national treasure when it comes to theology and interfaith dialogue."--Rabbi Robert L. Wolkoff, from the Swedish daily Dagen

"Dr. Larsson's book is a unique contribution to the Christian-Jewish relationship, inviting all of us to a joint theological consideration of our missions to the world. He has clarified in his book delicate matters that have separated Christians and Jews for centuries, matters that began a Christian teaching of contempt which prepared the atmosphere for the Holocaust. A joint Christian-Jewish study and reflection of his book will help us deepen the meaning of God's call for encounter and dialogue and project a message of peace and friendship to the world that desperately needs our religious testimony."--Rabbi Leon Klenicki, director, Department of Interfaith Affairs, Anti-Defamation League

"What difference does it make for a Christian theologian to have pondered the book of Exodus during many years in conversation with Jewish scholars in Jerusalem? Göran Larsson brings the long history of Jewish interpretations to correct and inform contemporary Christian understanding of this part of the Bible so crucial to both traditions. And he does so in a beautifully spiritual key."--Krister Stendahl, professor emeritus, Harvard Divinity School; Bishop emeritus, Church of Sweden

"The commentary on Exodus by Göran Larsson . . . brings out the theological and moral challenges of a passage. . . . I find Larsson's study alive with the message that YHWH transcends any human conceptuality and that the Exodus is an invitation to reflect on YHWH's continuing attempt to liberate each of us. Bound for Freedom is highly recommended for all seeking to escape a world with collapsing values and striving to enter the freedom promises in the far-off terra sancta."--J. H. Charlesworth, George L. Collord Professor of New Testament Language and Literature, Princeton Theological Seminary

"To read Exodus is to encounter the richly intertwined themes of revelation, redemption, relationship, and remembrance. To read Göran Larsson's commentary, Bound for Freedom, is to experience afresh these vibrant themes within a vast network of biblical and post-biblical intertexts. Following the example of the rabbis he has extensively studied, the author explores the webs of conceptual linkages within the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament. He engages texts from contemporary Egyptian and Canaanite cultures that inform our understanding of the Exodus narrative. Careful to investigate the implications of the Hebrew text, Larsson demonstrates that those dynamic words repeatedly come alive for succeeding generations of interpreters, culminating in his persistent and emphatic appeals to the hearts and intentions of his own readers. His sensitivity to the vital roles of women in the narratives is heartening. His presentation of a wealth of interpretive insights from rabbinic sources, Josephus, and Philo is enriching. His burden to overcome the longstanding misinterpretations of 'law and grace' that have led to disastrous displays of triumphalism is sobering. Larsson does not avoid the difficult theological questions that arise in conjunction with the hardening of Pharaoh's heart, with lex talionis, with the continuity of God's covenant with Israel, or with the relationship of Gentile believers to the Sinai covenant. Readers should find themselves challenged to re-visit these and other issues."--Elaine A. Phillips, associate professor of biblical and theological studies, Gordon College

The Author

  1. Göran Larsson

    Göran Larsson

    Göran Larsson is a director at the Jerusalem Center for Biblical Studies and Research and a visiting scholar at the University of California, San Diego. Among his many honors, he was the recipient of the 1990 Raoul Wallenberg Humanitarian Award, given for...

    Continue reading about Göran Larsson


"Larsson has written a theological commentary on the book of Exodus that draws upon his knowledge of the biblical, Jewish, and Christian traditions of interpretation. . . . His emphasis clearly is upon making elements of the Jewish interpretative tradition available to Christian readers. . . . The use of the Jewish interpretive tradition . . . serves one of Larsson's major concerns: to show that there is no unbridgeable gulf between the Old Testament and the New Testament, between Judaism and Christianity. Repeatedly, Larsson explicitly rejects Christian supersessionist interpretations of Exodus. . . . This commentary can be recommended for Christian readers who seek a theological reading of Exodus that has been informed by some Jewish interpreters. There are valuable insights here."--Review of Biblical Literature