Category: Book Reviews

Difficulties with the Akedah story explained

    The thrust of Soren Kierkegaard’s 1843 influential book “Fear and Trembling” is long reflections on Abraham’s near sacrifice of his son Isaac, a story told in Genesis 22.[1] Kierkegaard concludes from his analysis that Abraham represents the prototype of faith, for he showed faith when he was willing to obey God’s command to […]

Judaism’s first non-biblical philosopher

                                             Scholars have recognized long ago that the Bible has “wisdom books,” books that contain philosophy. They are Proverbs, Job, Ecclesiastes (also called Qohelet), and Ben Sira (also called Sirach and Ecclesiasticus) and the […]

Was Abel and not Cain the real villain?

In his 1919 superb novel Demian, the 1946 Nobel Prize winning author Hermann Hesse (1877-1962) suggested, despite the biblical text clearly stating that Cain criminally murdered his brother Abel, that it is possible to interpret the biblical story of Genesis 4 hinting that Abel was the brother who acted improperly.   The 1919 novel Hesse’s […]

An extremely important book

In “21 Lessons for the 21st Century,” Yuval Noah Harari gives us an extremely important book. He has a Ph.D. in history from the University of Oxford. He has a deep understanding of human behavior and states his views clearly and vividly. His prior two books on the past and future of humanity, Sapiens: A Brief […]

Adin Steinsaltz tries to save the honor of some biblical characters

    Many people who read the Hebrew Bible recognize that it does not try to conceal the faults of even the most significant people, such as the patriarchs Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and its most famous kings such as King David and King Solomon. Yet, since the general public needs heroes without blemishes, there are […]

All we want to know about Saudi Arabia

Ellen R. Wald’s book “Saudi, Inc.” about the Arabian kingdom’s pursuit of profit and power has been justly praised as “crucial reading for understanding Saudi Arabia” by Steve Forbes, and as “Masterful” by James B. Smith, American Ambassador to Saudi Arabia from 2009-2013. He also called it “mandatory reading.” They are right. The book is […]

Ecclesiastes does not say what we think it says

The JPS Bible Commentaries are highly respected for their scholarship and for the clear and easy to read manner in which this scholarship is presented so that even readers with little knowledge of the biblical books can effortlessly understand what is being explained. Michael V. Fox’s 2004 interpretation of Ecclesiastes in the JPS series reflects […]

Jews, according to J. L. Kugel, shifted in their understanding of God

As is well-known, there are many ways that are used to interpret the Bible. There is even a tradition that there are seventy ways to do so. Seventy was in biblical days a symbolic figure indicating a large number. Thus, for example, Exodus 1 states that seventy descendants of Jacob came to Egypt even though […]

A Guide for the Perplexed for the Modern Jew

  Jay Harris is the author of the in-depth important and enlightening book “Guiding the Perplexed of the Modern Age.”[1] It is a well-organized study of an important nineteenth-century Jewish scholar and philosopher. Harris is Assistant Professor of Jewish Studies at Harvard University. Nachman Krochmal (1785-1840) lived in Galicia, Austrian Empire, which is now Ukraine. […]

An atheist’s humorous irreverent interpretation of the Bible

Jose Saramago’s (1922-2010) last book Cain is a delightful, frequently funny, heretical, mocking, feverishly anti-God, retelling of the early books of the Hebrew Bible. He is the 1998 winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature. According to Saramago’s book, no snake spoke to Eve in Eden and persuaded her to eat the forbidden apple; snakes […]

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