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The Gifts of the Jews: How a Tribe of Desert Nomads Changed the Way Everyone Thinks and Feels (Hinges of History) Paperback – August 17, 1999
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Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
There's no sense rehashing all the critiquing that has already been done on this short and fascinating volume -- it is truly a quite thought-provoking attempt at some historical paradigm shifting. My question is whether such shifting is warranted in light of the evidence Cahill brings to bear on his thesis.
Like most bible-based historical analyses, Gifts suffers from assumptive leaps often grounded on precious little substance. For example, to claim that our very concept of time evolved from one of cyclical and unbreakable repetition with no end and no beginning to our current "processive" notions of past and future because of the Jews begs more questions than Cahill tackles. Among them are how the Egyptians managed to spend decades building monuments that were intended to last forever if they were convinced it would all be for naught when the next cycle began anew. For that matter, how did the Sumerians ever get around to building cities?
The author also provides mountains of detail regarding the emotional states of biblical figures whose words and behaviors were described in the barest of minimalist proportions, attributing broad and profound meanings to mere handfuls of words. To his credit, Cahill chose for his basis an unconventional translation that hews much closer to the meaning of the original language, and in fact his presentation of that novel interpretation is the best part of this book, but some of those interpretations strain credulity to such an extent that his underlying thesis is too often undermined.Read more ›
Along into this world of savage, cyclical ritual comes Abram, given a command to do something completely new and unexpected -- to leave the familiar and to strike out toward an uncertain destination. Cahill sees Abram (later Abraham) as the first human being to break out of the cycle of repetition, futility and fatedness. His was a God of surprises, about-faces and detours, not of regularity and rhythm.
For those unfamiliar with the Bible, Cahill's rendering is unpoetical yet vital. His sketches of the wily desert chieftain Abram, the tongue-tied, reluctant Moses and cockily self-assured David are wonderful antidotes to the tired pieties of Sunday school. If nothing else, Cahill has a gift for bringing alive ancient characters.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Great non-fiction book on the theological and historical foundations of Christianity. Very informative and written simply and clearly enough that the reader can easily understand... Read morePublished 2 months ago by Elkgrove West
A unique history book that's short and to the point and very enjoyable.
I enjoy reading history books and watching documentaries, but I'm far from an expert and cannot... Read more
This was a book that changed the way I look at the Bible--in the best possible way. You should definitely read it.Published 5 months ago by A. Barefoot
I have been gong down a Hebraic path in my Christian faith and this book, recommended by Rob Bell on his Rob Cast, has been thoroughly enjoyable and informative.Published 5 months ago by Raf Zayas
Cahill makes an imagined and provocative case for the roots of many modern values and beliefs that we have inherited from the Hebrew Scriptures and the Jewish people. Read morePublished 6 months ago by Althusius
Awww yessss....this is a good book. It reads much like a novel, infusing facts in a good narrative of the way people were so long ago. Read morePublished 7 months ago by AvianMan
I enjoyed this book because it made me think of certain parts of the bible narrative differently. I found the first four chapters the best.Published 7 months ago by Keevin Berman