The book is 152 pages and is about the music that can be derived from the text of the Hebrew Bible. It tells the story of the Bible in music. There are over 200 examples of the music. And it also tells you how the music is derived and something of the struggle to understand these strange marks in the text over the last 1000 years.
I am really over the top about how this book has been received to date by both scholar and pastor. The book combines both these loves for me: how things work and how we can learn to work together. Music does this for you.
This is a very interesting, user-friendly publication! I initially opened it in my IPhone but found myself reading it with great interest, not least because Bob explains difficult issues so clearly.
Susan Gillingham, Fellow and Tutor in Theology,
Professor of the Hebrew Bible, Worcester College Oxford
Bob MacDonald brings to the song of the Scriptures a meticulous attention to detail, an eye for imagery and symbol, and a heart for the feel and tone of the text that inspires the reader to look with fresh eyes at these ancient sacred writings. He enlivens the story with beauty and faith that is evident on every page.
Christopher Page, Rector, St Philip’s Oak Bay
For several years now Bob has on occasion treated our congregation to a taste of how Jesus himself may have heard the Scriptures sung in the Synagogue. Congregations integrating the music of the Hebrew Scriptures into their worship in this way will be deeply enriched, not just because it brings us closer to the historical setting of Jesus’ experience, not just by the beauty of the music, but most importantly by how these settings invite us to hear the word of God anew. We are indebted to Bob’s work to make this possible.
Rev. Dr. Travis O’Brian, Rector, St Barnabas Anglican Church;
Director of Anglican Studies, Vancouver School of Theology
Bob MacDonald's book is clearly both a work of detailed scholarship and a labor of love. With the help of computer technology, MacDonald, building on the work of Haik-Vantoura and an important key provided by Psalm 114, turns the puzzling markings that pervade manuscripts in the Hebrew Bible into music. I have no doubt that the years to come will witness not only vigorous debate about this procedure among scholars, but also performances and adaptations of the music MacDonald provides. Even if someone is skeptical about the interpretation of these symbols as musical notation, or this specific interpretation of them, they can still benefit from something MacDonald does that is, to my knowledge, unprecedented. By recognizing that these are performance markings, we can tell that certain passages in the Hebrew Bible were performed in the same way, using comparable melodic lines. And so we have here very old evidence of how cantors viewed texts as related to one another, and depicted that relationship through the very act of melodic recitation. The importance of this work for those interested in the interpretation and reception history of the Bible, as well as the more specific field of the Bible and music, should not be underestimated.
Dr. James F. McGrath, Clarence L. Goodwin Chair in New Testament Language and Literature Department of Philosophy & Religion, Butler University