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on 29 January 2013
I first read this book as a University comparitive religion set book back in the 1970s. Recently I saw it was on Kindle and deceided to re-read it again. It's very pithy, direct and very American Jewish. It is full of intesting comments on the study of History, What it means to be Jewish, and the interesting contribution the Jews have made to Civilisation. I am non-Jewish, but I think we should all be aware of what this book has to tell us. It is just as important now as when it was written 50 + years ago.
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on 31 December 2012
I strongly recommend this book as a starting place for someone that want to learn more about Jewish history. It is extremely well organized, written in a very appealing prose that keeps one hooked to the text. It avoids the common places, always trying to put all the facts in to the proper historical context.
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on 7 October 1997
Presents the turbulent life of the Jews throughout the centuries. Mr.Dimont is very passionate about his subject and it is a wonderful read. An absolute must for religious studies students, Jews and Christians.
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on 9 October 2013
Max Dimont is little known to me and I am not too ashamed to say so ~ but it has been my loss. His creds just say he was educated in Finland and lectured a lot in St. Louis ~ so perhaps my St. Louis cousins know of him, but I don't. Only the name was vaguely familiar to me.

This book of his, JEWS GOD AND HISTORY at just over 420 pages is a marvel especially since it is his first book. (Here's the 50th anniversary edition!) Not one of the best of its kind but in fact a sort of stand-alone brief history of the Jews. While Dimont's left brain sometimes merely transcribes history right out of the TORAH, his right brain mocks and disbelieves some of it. He certainly gives the Jewish people and religion a bit of a hard time.

That is precisely the joy of this book. Dimont is not going to kick any sacred cows which don't really need kicking: he does not argue one iota with the old traditional dates and events, such as the Exodus occurring in 1200 B.C. He does not seem to argue the existence of Moses, though nearly every other scholar does so. Dimont also swallows whole the lie that is Christianity.

Otherwise and mostly, Dimont gives a streamlined, wonderfully abbreviated history from the Jewish perspective without going nuts like a Zionist would do. I learned more from Dimont's book in some cases than I have learned in my lifelong education. For example, did you know that while in Babylonian captivity, the Jews became civilized, prosperous and happy? "We're good Babylonians, who wants to leave?", Dimont imagines them saying when King Cyrus of Persia freed them.

There are so many wonderful tidbits and the book doesn't read as dated as you might think. It is dated to be sure, at least my 1962 copy is, but nothing we can't handle. It is, in fact, a stunning and subtle exposé of Dimont's own theories: one is that the original Hebrews and the later ones (post-Sinai) were two different but related folks.

Another theory he puts out there is the Jews did an about-face with their religious beliefs around 600 B.C. in order to survive and exclude other peoples from their midst. Now THAT is fascinating, and no one as far as I know has disproved Dimont's theories yet! If you'd like two sides of the spectrum: try John Bright's A History of Israel (Third Edition) (Westminster Aids to the Study of the Scriptures) then Prof. Shlomo Sands' The Invention of the Jewish People (see my reviews).

Aha!! You'll find both Bright and Sand basically leaning heavily on Dimont's seminal work.

NOW, FOR THE TRULY BAD AND SOUR: Dimont may be said to take liberties. He flies right over, with far too much convenience, some interesting albeit minor episodes in Israel's history. For example, whilst he discusses the origins of the Hebrews for a few pages, he suddenly abandons the subject with almost as little as he broached it.

Dimont dangles his carrots often, and as such, he omits important periods or simply dismisses events as he sees them rather than to admit that hopeless truth: no one knows the details for certain. He seems to praise Josephus-the-Lair, yet dismisses Rabbi Akiva and the Bar Kochba Rebellion in a few (slightly inaccurate) paragraphs. I hate it when authors dangle the carrot then run. Who learns anything that way?

And I was honestly quite put out by his easy dismissal of King Saul and totally ignoring the relationship between David and Prince Jonathan. Dimont sours the wine a bit too often in this manner.

What annoyed me most was Dimont's struggle not to be a loudmouth Christian when addressing the topic of Jesus, but he managed it anyway. He avoids references to the divinity of Jesus and simply pretends the Jews magically changed into Christians. He also simply and lazily follows what everyone is taught, which is all wrong.

All Dimont did here was summarize the synoptic Gospels, not even bothering to utilize the Gospel of John which is the one non-synoptic Gospel. What opportunities he threw away here! Especially after his concise yet educational explanation of the Maccabee dynasty and its rule.

Of course Dimont also covers, for example, the history of the Jews from the beginnings of civilization through the Roman invasion, in 100 neatly, tightly written pages. It is but a quarter of his book and look how far he manages to get. That's a bit like gleaning all of history from a history of the popes. Only Dimont makes his narrative flow well, despite some amateurish errors and dopey, dated spellings.

Get this and read true world history by a mercurial, eccentric and forgotten man who really had the 'Jewish number'. We might just all learn how to get along under Dimont's weird guidance.
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on 28 December 2014
A very thought provoking read for the religious and non-religious alike.
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on 16 September 2014
a bit heavy reading but is a good learning tool
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on 22 October 2013
Still looking for an easy-to-follow book on Jewish traditions & their religious views. Now have four & none of them have met my requirements. I'll just keep looking!
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on 11 August 2015
Very pleased with this purchase.
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on 21 May 2016
Very good read.
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on 4 July 2015
excellent book
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