Buy Used
£0.01
+ £2.80 UK delivery
Used: Very Good | Details
Condition: Used: Very Good
Comment: Unbeatable customer service, and we usually ship the same or next day. Over one million satisfied customers!
Have one to sell?
Flip to back Flip to front
Listen Playing... Paused   You're listening to a sample of the Audible audio edition.
Learn more
See this image

The Gifts of the Jews: How a Tribe of Desert Nomads Changed the Way Everyone Thinks and Feels (Hinges of History) Paperback – 1 Sep 1999


See all 10 formats and editions Hide other formats and editions
Amazon Price New from Used from
Paperback, 1 Sep 1999
£0.01


Product details

  • Paperback: 291 pages
  • Publisher: Bantam Doubleday Dell Publishing Group (1 Sept. 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385482493
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385482493
  • Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 1.8 x 20.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (41 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 734,192 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Discover books, learn about writers, and more.

Product Description

Amazon Review

Thomas Cahill, author of the best-selling How the Irish Saved Civilization, continues his Hinges of History series with The Gifts of the Jews, a light-handed, popular account of ancient Jewish culture, the culture of the Bible. The book is written from a decidedly modern point of view. Cahill notes, for instance, that Abraham moved the Jews from Ur to the land of Canaan "to improve their prospects", and that the leering inhabitants of Sodom surrounded Lot's lodging "like the ghouls in Night of the Living Dead". The Gifts of the Jews nonetheless encourages us to see the Old Testament through ancient eyes--to see its characters not as our contemporaries but as those of Gilgamesh and Amenhotep. Cahill also lingers on often overlooked books of the Bible, such as Ruth, to discuss changes in ancient sensibility. The result is a fine, speculative, eminently readable work of history. --Ali Perry-Gallagher --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

"Persuasive as well as entertaining...Mr. Cahill's book [is] a gift."--Christopher Lehmann-Haupt, "The New York Times" "An outstanding and very readable book...highly recommended."--"Library Journal" "A very good read, a dramatically effective, often compelling retelling of the Hebrew Bible."--Charles Gold, "Chicago Sun Times" "This is a valuable book, of interest to everyone, religious or not."--"Washington Times" "A highly readable, entrancing journey." --"San Francisco Chronicle" --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
Somewhat more than five millennia ago, a human hand first carved a written word, and so initiated history, mankind's recorded story. Read the first page
Explore More
Concordance
Browse Sample Pages
Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index
Search inside this book:

Customer Reviews

3.4 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Kurt Messick HALL OF FAME on 6 Dec. 2005
Format: Paperback
Thomas Cahill's second outing as author of the hinge-histories is a worthy follow-up, if a bit more simplistic. This book was a very easy read for me, both in content and in style, and I think the general reader will enjoy this book, too. I am used to, in my seminary training, to having weighty tomes to journey through -- this was a refreshing walk in a park.
Unlike his previous subject about the Irish, this book covers a subject on which almost everyone has an opinion, so Cahill's interpretations on the Hebrew Scriptures and history (Old Testament times) will undoubtedly not satisfy everyone. He does a very good job, though, of steering clear of interpretive controversies.
He presents this history as a history of what is important in its legacy for us -- no sense in asking questions such as 'Were these really the first monotheists?' &c., because it is a fact that our cultural tendency toward monotheism in the West derives from this band of people. This is the people from whom much of our Western sensibility is derived.
'This gift of the Commandments allows us to live in the present, in the here and now. What I have done in the past is past mending; what I will do in the future is a worry not worth a candle, for there is no way I can know what will happen next. But in this moment--and only in htis moment--I am in control.'
The very idea of regulations, justice, and communal living (beyond the whims of the powerful), and of self-discipline exerted from within, rather than from without, derives largely in our society from these writings. Again, it is not worth haggling over who had the earliest codification of regulations and civil laws--those did not get handed down to us as a living, working text.
Read more ›
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Stephen A. Haines HALL OF FAME on 12 Mar. 2000
Format: Hardcover
Why is 'Western' culture so unlike that of the majority of other societies in the world? Cahill identifies the sources of our culture in ancient Judaism and relates the revolutionary changes introduced by the Jews. In a conceptual rather than detailed treatise, he explains how a small band of people departed from their neighbours by revising their view of the universe and themselves. This feat was accomplished by viewing time as linear instead of cyclical, introducing monotheism to replace a pantheon of deities, and enhancing individuality. These facets of our culture are in direct contrast with those who view Nature as the basis of belief rather than detaching themselves from it. Cahill opens with a quote from Black Elk reflecting the respect for Nature non-Western cultures can sustain. What Cahill leaves out, of course, is the global impact the new ideas have had even on cultures which don't openly subscribe to them. This book is an invitation to reflect on who it is that we really are. That's a question we should ask ourselves from time to time. Gifts doesn't make that query directly, but the implication is as strong as it was in his book on Irish culture. .
What is the impact of this novel way of thinking about ourselves? ... For one thing, the linear view of time is the basis for all Western scientific thought. Without such a concept we could never recognize how evolution controls the flow of life. Seeking the mechanics of the Big Bang wouldn't be among our enquiries. We would never have sought an answer to our origins either cosmic or biological. Cahill contends that adopting the new view of time imparted the concept of free will, which allowed us the freedom to pursue such inquiries.
Read more ›
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 13 Aug. 1999
Format: Hardcover
This book is by no means a highly detailed, scholarly history. However, it is a great introduction to many aspects of history and religion -- ancient Mideast history, Jewish history, the Old Testament, Judeo/Christian philosophy. The book focuses on the author's interpretation of historical events, an analysis of the bible from both a sociological and literary perspective, and presents some thought-provoking ideas.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 4 July 1998
Format: Hardcover
I found this book to be quite interesting and informative. It gave the uninitiated a different outlook on historical and biblical information. Cahill's theories draw an interesting line from the ancient Sumerians through to modern day Israel. Being somewhat knowledgeable in eastern thought, I found his discussion of cyclical versus processive religion to be right on the money. The eastern religions of Taoism and Buddhism rely on a holistic view of life where western thought tends to be in a straight line. The holistic view of life has been one of the things that draws me to eastern thought. Also not being a religious scholar, I enjoyed Cahill's easy explanations of some of the lesser quoted stories of the bible. I now have a better understanding of where things came from and how they came to be. I was also quite astonished at the barbarism of the ancient world coupled with compassion. It showed me that even though civilization has moved 5000 years forward, we have not changed much as a species in our base instincts and thoughts. Based on Cahill's discussion of Everett Fox's new translations of the Five Books of Moses, I now want to continue my study by reading Fox's work. The faithfulness to the original Hebrew text as referenced in Fox's work was great. I especially enjoyed the spelling of YHWH, based on newer research.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again

Most Recent Customer Reviews



Feedback