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The Great Partnership: Science, Religion, and the Search for Meaning 1st Edition

77 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0805243017
ISBN-10: 0805243011
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Editorial Reviews


“A figure of great stature and sometimes the center of controversy in England, where he has served as chief rabbi for two decades, Rabbi Sacks is certain to add to both his stature and the controversy that surrounds him with the publication of The Great Partnership. . . . Society needs both religion and science, Sacks argues in this innovative, articulate, and well-documented book.  He effortlessly includes statistics and history, personal stories and culture-wide experiences, all of it making clear the differences he sees between the Weltanschauung of his world and that of the atheist.”
—The Jewish Week

The Great Partnership is illuminating and sometimes genuinely moving, because of the erudition and the warm personality with which Rabbi Sacks unrolls his credo. . . . It makes a persuasive case that the bloody rhetorical war between ‘science’ and ‘religion’ is not just unnecessary; it is foolish. . . . A humane, learned cri de coeur.”
—The Wall Street Journal
“In prose that is both stately and accessible, Rabbi Sacks offers an examination of the most profound issues of faith and science that is both intellectually rigorous and generous in spirit.  With an impressive range of scholarship that extends far beyond the Jewish tradition, he marshals an array of arguments for the proposition that ‘we need both religion and science.’ ”
—Shelf Awareness

“In clear language Sacks sets forth the arguments put forward by atheists, respectfully demolishing them in favor of the religious stance that he forthrightly espouses.  The range and depth of his familiarity with authorities in both camps are most impressive [and] his erudite position is largely compelling. . . .  Essential reading because of Sacks’s splendid range of knowledge and his powerful ability to tackle tough issues.”
—Publishers Weekly
“A brilliant exposition of the possibility of science and religion, each in its own way, contributing to a better world.”
—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“There is a warm, accessible scholarship about Rabbi Sacks; it’s easy to see why he is such a popular sage. The Great Partnership will only burnish this reputation. After several years in which the new atheists—Dawkins, Hitchens, Hawking—have made all the running, Sacks offers an intelligent, optimistic credo that allows for the happy coexistence of science and religion. . . . For those people who know that science is right but still want to believe, this cake-and-eat-it argument is made with erudition, scholarship, and charm.”
—The Times (London)
“The learned and humane Sacks normally speaks from within the Jewish tradition. But here he is much more inclusive, drawing from Judaism, Christianity and, he claims, Islam . . . His erudition is extensive [and he] is engaging and thought-provoking throughout. His exploration of the deep differences between classical Greek and Hebrew thought is quite brilliant. . . . Without a doubt he is a wise thinker and a national treasure.”
—The Independent

About the Author

Rabbi Jonathan Sacks has been Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of Great Britain and the Commonwealth since 1991 and has received honorary degrees from universities around the world. He is the award-winning author of more than twenty books, writes frequently for The Times (London) and other periodicals, and is heard regularly on the BBC. He was made a Life Peer and took his seat in the House of Lords in October 2009.


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Schocken; 1 edition (September 11, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0805243011
  • ISBN-13: 978-0805243017
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.4 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (77 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #194,616 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks

A global religious leader, philosopher, bestselling author and moral voice for our time, Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks is currently the Ingeborg and Ira Rennert Global Distinguished Professor of Judaic Thought at New York University and the Kressel and Ephrat Family University Professor of Jewish Thought at Yeshiva University. He is also Professor of Law, Ethics and the Bible at King's College London. Previously, Rabbi Sacks served as Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth between September 1991 and September 2013, only the sixth incumbent since the role was formalized in 1845.

Described by H.R.H. The Prince of Wales as "a light unto this nation" and by former British Prime Minister Tony Blair as "an intellectual giant", Rabbi Sacks is a frequent contributor to radio, television and the press both in Britain and around the world. A visiting professor at several universities in Britain, the United States and Israel, Rabbi Sacks holds 16 honorary degrees, including a Doctor of Divinity conferred to mark his first ten years in office as Chief Rabbi, by the then Archbishop of Canterbury, Lord Carey.

In recognition of his work, Rabbi Sacks has won several international awards, including the Jerusalem Prize in 1995 for his contribution to diaspora Jewish life and The Ladislaus Laszt Ecumenical and Social Concern Award from Ben Gurion University in Israel in 2011. Rabbi Sacks was named as The Becket Fund's 2014 Canterbury Medallist for his role in the defence of religious liberty in the public square. He was knighted by Her Majesty The Queen in 2005 and made a Life Peer, taking his seat in the House of Lords in October 2009.

The author of 25 books, Rabbi Sacks has published commentaries to the daily Jewish prayer book (siddur) and has completed commentaries to the Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur and Pesach festival prayer books (machzorim) to date. His most recent book, Not in God's Name: Confronting Religious Violence, which tackles the thorny issue of religious extremism and violence committed in the name of God, was published in June 2015 and was a bestseller in the UK. It is set to published in the United States in October 2015. His book The Great Partnership: God, Science and the Search for Meaning, published in July 2011, received widespread praise for articulating a way for religion and science to mutually coexist.

A number of his books have won literary awards, including the Grawemeyer Prize for Religion in 2004 for The Dignity of Difference, and a National Jewish Book Award in 2000 for A Letter in the Scroll. Covenant & Conversation: Genesis was also awarded a National Jewish Book Award in 2009, and the Koren Sacks Pesach Machzor won the Dorot Foundation National Jewish Book Award for Modern Jewish Thought and Experience for 2013. His Covenant & Conversation commentaries on the weekly Torah portion are read by thousands of people in Jewish communities around the world.

Born in 1948 in London, Rabbi Sacks attended Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, receiving honors in philosophy. He continued his studies at New College, Oxford, and King's College London, where he earned his doctorate in 1981. The same year he was ordained at Jews' College and at Yeshiva Etz Chaim, both in London. He served as the rabbi for Golders Green synagogue and Marble Arch synagogue in London. Before taking the post of chief rabbi, he also was Principal of Jews' College, the world's oldest rabbinical seminary.

In 1970, Rabbi Sacks married his wife, Elaine, and they have three children, Joshua, Dina and Gila and several grandchildren.


Tradition in an Untraditional Age (1990)
Persistence of Faith (1991)
Arguments for the Sake of Heaven (1991)
Crisis and Covenant (1992)
One People? (1993)
Will We Have Jewish Grandchildren? (1994)
Community of Faith (1995)
Faith in the Future (1998)
The Politics of Hope (1997)
Morals and Markets (1999)
Celebrating Life (2000)
A Letter in the Scroll (2001)
The Dignity of Difference (2002)
The Chief Rabbi's Haggadah (2003)
From Optimism to Hope (2004)
To Heal a Fractured World (2005)
The Authorised Daily Prayer Book: new translation and commentary (2006)
The Home We Build Together (2007)
Future Tense (2009)
Covenant and Conversation: Genesis (2009)
Covenant and Conversation: Exodus (2010)
The Great Partnership; God, Science and the Search for Meaning (2011)
The Koren Sacks Rosh Hashana Mahzor (2011)
The Koren Sacks Yom Kippur Mahzor (2012)
The Koren Sacks Pesach Mahzor (2013
Lessons in Leadership (2015)
Covenant and Conversation: Leviticus (2015)
Not in God's Name (2015)
The Koren Sacks Succot Mahzor (2015)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

55 of 56 people found the following review helpful By Roman Sandler on September 19, 2012
Format: Hardcover
This is the 5th book I read by R' Sacks, and as a current doctoral candidate in the sciences this is one of my favorites. Sacks doesn't go the route of various other writers who attempt to integrate the bible and science by using compromised/shoddy science or using 'secret/mystical' readings of the bible to explain that the bible and science are completely in sync.

Rather, Sacks takes a more philosophical approach arguing that even the assumption the the bible must be 'proven' with science or must corroborate physical phenomena is mistaken and an alien way of reading the bible.

Once again, Sacks does this with his usual gift for beautiful prose that is both clarifying and inspiring.

That having been said those who take a more conservative/literalist approach to theology should be wary as R' Sacks may be challenging to their belief system.

For everyone else, however, from the religious minded to atheists should read this book as one of the best cases for God/the bible in the 21st century.
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35 of 37 people found the following review helpful By Paschal Baute on September 29, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The Great Partnership by Rabbi Sachs is a remarkable, scholarly, well written, page turner that will keep thinkers and seekers enthralled. The scope of his scholarship is amazing. I was bookmaking and making notes almost every page. He does justice to every view he presents.

By way of full disclosure I am a retired married Catholic priest / psychologist, active in promoting interfaith understanding for four decades. I still lead workshops integrating psychology and spirituality, and blogs regularly on wellness, braid research and faith. For integrative studies, holistic thinker and those who are concerned about cultural values, this book is a treasure.

Anyone interested in interfaith dialogue will find this book full of insights and quotable statements. Those seeking to deepen the understanding of their own faith tradition will find this book transforming. Scientists, skeptics and agnostics will find this book helps understand the cultural value of the Abrahamic traditions: Hebrew, Christian and Muslim. The book ends with a well written Epilogue for atheists.

Many people of faith do not know or want to know the enormous harm done in God's name for several thousand years. Rabbi Sachs faces the world as it is, and addresses this "power over" human temptation and abuse with adequate discussion of remedies. "Men never do evil so comfortably and cheerfully as when they do it from religious confection." Blaise Pascal.

In the main, Rabbi Sachs shows how science and religion need one another, and how either by itself, is incomplete. I can hardly recommend this book highl6 enough. I made over 200 notes on my kindle while reading this. I look for his other writings. For its purposes, scope, scholarship, readability and relevance, this book is a winner.

Paschal Baute, Ed. D.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By notechie on November 13, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is one of the finest discussions for those of us who do not believe that science and religion need to be at odds. His integration of current scientific understanding and religious thinking is a breath of fresh air after the spate of new atheists writings and radical right rhetoric.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By FoghornLeghorn on December 26, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I heard Rabbi Sacks on a radio show, and had to buy the book. I'm now on my third copy as I keep giving them away. A great book for a thoughtful college student to help him or her navigate overwhelming secularism. Jonathan Sacks reminds us that we have much wisdom to learn from each other in our quest for meaning.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful By MinnesotaMind on June 10, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
It was difficult to decide how many stars to give this book because it was incredibly strong and important in some parts, but in others, merely laborious and repetitive.

Let me explain.

First, it's important to say from the outset that I think is Rabbi Sacks is incredibly learned, maybe a genius, and his facility to weave Biblical texts with those held sacred from the Western canon is always thrilling for this English teacher.

Also, as a response to recent works by New Atheists (Sacks's term, not sure if it's pejorative) like Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens (RIP), and Sam Harris, Sacks's defense of the religious life is thoughtful, moderate, respectful, and conducted at low decibel. And though It is an incredibly welcome and needed entry into that discussion, in many ways, Sacks's preoccupation with defending religion against the NA's overtly dismissive diatribes is one of its faults as well. What I mean is that, and maybe I'm wrong here, I don't think that many thinking people believe, as Hitchens claimed, that "religion poisons everything." Emanating from such brilliant minds, it's a startlingly stupid assertion. OBVIOUSLY, one can cherry pick ANY "ism's" most morally deranged followers, most chillingly nationalistic writings, and most violent outliers and claim that the ISM "poisons everything." So Sacks spends far too much of this book arguing that there is something worthwhile, noble, and good, about leading a religious life. He never claims that these are guaranteed, only that throwing out religion altogether, as the NAs would have us do, robs humanity of one its most beautiful creations.

One other weakness (and then onto the justification for FOUR stars).
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