This anthology called the Hebrew Bible is interesting for the same reasons that any cultural expression produced by human beings is interesting: because it contains attempts by human beings to explore fundamental questions.
Further, it has a central role in Western culture, in Judaism, and in Christianity.
Thus a humanistic thinker, a student of Western culture may find the Hebrew Bible to be of vital concern without, however, regarding it as scripture: that is, without attributing to it some ontological status or connection with God that differentiates it from other cultural artifacts.
To my mind, the core project of modern biblical criticism — and by that term I mean academic biblical scholarship going back to the 18th century, and really even back to Hobbes and Spinoza in the 17th century — has been to read the Bible as an artifact within its own cultural world.
Kugel treats the Torah as a sacred text, to be read reverentially and approached with devotion reflecting the will of God.
It is an anthology of Northwest Semitic texts from the Iron Age and shortly thereafter.
These texts furnish insight into a particular culture that existed near the eastern edge of Mediterranean over the course of several centuries.
Benjamin D Sommer, Professor of Bible in the Department of Bible and Ancient Semitic Languages at The Jewish Theological Seminary of America is one of the few Jewish academic for whom that definition is the focus of his writing.
Sommer’s recent work, deals with the role of revelation in the Bible and how that creates obligation within a Jewish understanding.