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The Great Partnership: Science, Religion, and the Search for Meaning Hardcover – September 11, 2012

ISBN-13: 978-0805243017 ISBN-10: 0805243011 Edition: 1st

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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: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (57 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #407,369 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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.

Customer Reviews

I highly, highly recommend this book for anyone who finds themselves in the same position.
The writing style engages the reader, immersing the reader into a deep dialogue with the author as well as with himself or herself.
In The Great Partnership Rabbi Sacks advocates the necessary and profound interdependence of religion and science.
Alex Vary

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

48 of 49 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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31 of 31 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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10 of 10 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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9 of 10 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).
Read more ›
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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Bruce Fox on June 20, 2013
Format: Hardcover
This is the best book ever written by a theologian seeking to refute the views of "New Atheists" like Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris.

The rabbi is not a nutcase. He is moderate and reasonable, and seems perfectly willing to concede some points that theologians don't normally concede. But while making his concessions, he also qualifies them. Some examples are:

1. It is possible that God does not exist, he concedes. Not very likely, he insists, but possible. Not believing in God is as much an act of faith as believing in God, he points out.

2. It is possible to be moral without believing in God, he concedes. In fact, he says, it happens all the time. But people who believe in God are statistically more likely to be moral than people who don't believe in God, he insists.

3. Religion at times has been more of a force for evil in the world than a force for good, he concedes. Although the good has generally outweighed the evil, he insists.
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More About the Author

Chief Rabbi Sir Jonathan Sacks

Rabbi Sir Jonathan Sacks has been Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth since September 1, 1991, the sixth incumbent since 1845.

In July 2009, appointed to the House of Lords as a cross-bencher.

Prior to becoming Chief Rabbi, Rabbi Sacks served as Principal of Jews' College, London, the world's oldest rabbinical seminary, as well as rabbi of the Golders Green and Marble Arch synagogues in London. He gained rabbinic ordination from Jews' College and London's Yeshiva Etz Chaim.

His secular academic career has also been a distinguished one. Educated at Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, where he obtained first class honours in Philosophy, he pursued postgraduate studies at New College, Oxford, and King's College, London. Sir Jonathan has been Visiting Professor of Philosophy at the University of Essex, Sherman Lecturer at Manchester University, Riddell Lecturer at Newcastle University, Cook Lecturer at the Universities of Oxford, Edinburgh and St. Andrews and Visiting Professor at the Hebrew University, Jerusalem. He is currently Visiting Professor of Theology at Kings' College London. He holds honorary doctorates from the universities of Bar Ilan, Cambridge, Glasgow, Haifa, Middlesex, Yeshiva University New York, University of Liverpool, St. Andrews University and Leeds Metropolitan University, and is an honorary fellow of Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, and King's College London. In September 2001, the Archbishop of Canterbury conferred on him a Doctorate of Divinity in recognition of his first ten years in the Chief Rabbinate.

At his installation as Chief Rabbi in 1991, Dr Sacks set out his vision of a reinvigorated Anglo-Jewry and launched it with a Decade of Jewish Renewal, followed by a series of innovative communal projects. These included Jewish Continuity (a national foundation funding programmes in Jewish education and outreach), the Association of Jewish Business Ethics, the Chief Rabbinate Awards for Excellence, the Chief Rabbinate Bursaries, and Community Development, a national programme to enhance Jewish community life. In 1995, he received the Jerusalem Prize for his contribution to diaspora Jewish life. In September 2001 the Chief Rabbi began his second decade of office with a call to Jewish Responsibility and a renewed commitment to the ethical dimension of Judaism. He was awarded a Knighthood in the Queen's Birthday Honours list in June 2005. A notably gifted communicator, the Chief Rabbi is a frequent contributor to radio, television and the national press. He frequently delivers BBC RADIO 4's THOUGHT FOR THE DAY, writes a monthly CREDO column for THE TIMES and delivers an annual Rosh Hashanah message on BBC 2. In 1990 he was invited by the BBC Board of Governors to deliver the annual Reith Lectures on the subject of THE PERSISTENCE OF FAITH.

The Dignity of Difference was awarded the 2004 Grawemeyer Prize for Religion, and A Letter in the Scroll a National Jewish Book Award 2002.

Born in 1948 in London, he has been married to Elaine since 1970. They have three children, Joshua, Dina and Gila and three 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)
Radical Then, Radical Now (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)

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