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
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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.
"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."
"A highly readable, entrancing journey."
--"San Francisco Chronicle"
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Top Customer Reviews
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 ›
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 ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
this is an interesting take on history specifically asked for by a family memberPublished 19 months ago by D. M. Greenfields
This book is not difficult to read. Cahill writes well and refers to many interesting facts with good insights and observationsPublished on 6 Feb. 2013 by elmer
I have found this book that discusses as the Title says "The Gifts of the Jews" to just do this so well. Read morePublished on 25 April 2012 by Birmingham Book Reader
history from a modern perspective. good with the history; light on the gifts. enjoyable read nonetheless.
I was eager to read this after it was personally recommended by a friend. I also have an interest in the history of the jews and Judiasm, it being the root of my Christian faith. Read morePublished on 4 Aug. 2010 by GJC
Thomas Cahill's second outing as author of the hinge-histories is a worthy follow-up, if a bit more simplistic. Read morePublished on 1 Mar. 2006 by Kurt Messick
In "The Gift Of The Jews", Thomas Cahill advances the theory that the Jews introduced unique world views. Read morePublished on 5 Oct. 2004 by James Gallen
Very good book for someone interested in ancient civilizatioins. However, this is not a book you just browse through - you have to want to read it, at times it becomes very text... Read morePublished on 12 July 1999
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