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4.0 out of 5 stars
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on 25 May 2016
This is an excellent book, though I confess I found it difficult reading as it is an academic book and I don't find that style easy to follow. However the ideas are very important so I have ploughed through it and am now digesting it. I originally got it from the library, but it was taking me so long to read I bought a copy!
I want David Nirenberg - or someone else! - to write a popular, plain English version of this book. At a time like now when anti-Semitism is horribly on the rise (Too many people are deluded into believing nonsense like the 'Zionist conspiracy' theory; holocaust denial is on the rise, attacks on jews, verbal and physical, are much too common. and yet there is still a denial amongst many people that anti-Semitism exists.), and there is all sorts of hatemongering of one group or another, all of which are increased by the existence of anti-Semitism which was almost the blueprint for such oppression and lies in the modern world, we all need to keep a clear head and really try to understand how the scapegoating of the Jewish people has actually nothing to do with actual Jews but is rather to do with an accumulation of misinformation that has gathered momemetum over milleniums - Jews were picked as a scapegoat to distract people from other issues, and this is happening to this day.
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on 3 November 2017
He’s up to date in that he is aware of the ‘New Perspectives on Paul.’

His written style is evocative – talking of the coversos in Spain he says that when the baptismal tide had settled, a new landscape was revealed.

Many of us always thought that the epistle to the Galatians is problematic. This booh proves that it is so. Galatians has a lot to answer for – Paul’s use of ‘ftesh’ comes to mean that Jews are ‘materialists’.

Ancient views, which castigated the followers of Moses as misanthropes and enemies of the gods, later became caught up in the works of early Christian thinkers, who sought to distinguish their new belief from their testamentary forerunner.

His dating of the gospels is unfashionably late, so Thomas and John were written about the same time.

Incredibly, during the Enlightenment it was though tht Jews were incapable of learning reason – this after the writings of Spinoza.
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on 20 May 2014
This book isn't just for those interested in racism, religious conflict or the history of the Jewish people. The most profitable findings of this books can be found in its examination of the contexts in which anti-Jewish and anti-Judaic hatred festered from antiquity to the modern era. Its uses extend far beyond matters relating to Jewish-Christian and Jewish-Islamic relations. One thing you may be surprised to learn quickly from this book is just how bizarre some of the beliefs of the Church Fathers were with regards to their adoption (one may say hijacking) of the Hebrew Bible 'Old Testament' and Ancient Greek philosophy. It might be a bit too far to call them deluded - but then again, claiming that Moses traveled to Athens, influenced Aristotle and that both of them were 'really' Christians the whole time without knowing it is fairly batty. Shameful episodes in the history of the early Church - the burning of synagogues, the massacre of Jews and the seizure of their property - show that it wasn't just the economic conditions of the Middle Ages which established violent antipathy between the rival children of Abraham. Anti-Jewish hatred is shown to be embedded deep within the Christian scriptures and the earliest literary works and correspondence of the pre-Constantine church, with matters only getting worse for the Jews after the Christianisation of the Roman Empire.

I recommend this book to anybody interested even remotely in Jewish history and especially to those more broadly concerned with the cruel and irrational nature of humans divided in groups. It should be mandatory reading for anyone even thinking of going out and proselytizing to Jews about the "Good News" of Jesus - you'll be quick to learn that for the past two millennia, this news has really been 'anything but'.
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on 26 August 2013
Being a rather large book (600+ pages) I bought the Kindle version, so I happened to take it with me on a long plane journey.
So as it was there, I thought I'd make a start, read maybe 30 pages, then move on to something more relaxing.
Well, I read this throughout the plane journey, and carried on reading it in my spare time throughout my trip and on the way home too.
It's totally gripping. I'd plan to read to the end of the chapter, then I'd see the enticing heading / first paragraphs of the next chapter and on I'd go...
I've read a lot about (some eras of) Jewish & Middle East history but this beats the lot. ..the scope, the angle he takes, the relaxed writing style. Some of the historical ages I know little about, but even on the eras that I thought I did know a bit about, he still manages to open my eyes just a little bit wider.
It's a book of history. It's not making any political points that I can see, and all the better for that. You can read, learn and be wiser and hopefully more enlightened for reading it.
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on 1 January 2015
An excellent book that is very well written, and a compelling and thought provoking history. I would recommend it to anyone with an interest in this subject matter.
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on 22 March 2014
I bought this having read rave review in the NYRB. But I found it much less original and interesting than I had expected. It generally failed the acid tests- "I hadn't thought of that before", "I never new that" and stylistically I found it rather lumpy. Big disappointment.
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on 10 August 2013
comprensive approach, map the history of anti-judaism in western thought from its earlier historically verifiable sources .
Important book in todays world on increasing antisemetic intolerance
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on 26 August 2013
To be honest, I'm struggling here. The text is dense, particularly if you are new to the subject. I'll battle on but don't guarantee to get through to the end.
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