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The Ten Commandments: How Our Most Ancient Moral Text Can Renew Modern Life Hardcover – September 7, 2010


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Scribner; y First printing edition (September 7, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1416562354
  • ISBN-13: 978-1416562351
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.3 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,025,043 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

*Starred Review* In the Supreme Court’s legalistic rulings on public display of the Ten Commandments, Hazony finds disturbing evidence that even when the Decalogue stirs up controversy, it does not receive serious scrutiny. Dispelling the common misconception that it is an irrelevant artifact of a theocratic age, Hazony shows that this set of biblical commandments fosters social health in ways that should matter even to the secularly minded. Even the first commandment—the warning against putting any god above the God of Abraham—yields a social imperative when Hazony draws from it a humane moral vision that will sustain redemptive action in an oppressive world. Similarly insightful readings open up the second commandment’s prohibition against graven images into an invitation into the richer life that awaits those who will smash the narcissistic idols of wealth and fashion; similarly, Hazony converts the fifth commandment’s injunction to honor our parents into a basis for intergenerational moral understanding. And in the final commandment’s admonition against covetousness, readers will discover a shelter against insecurity and a harbor of peace. Ultimately, Hazony finds in the Ten Commandments not a reason for discouragement because of our inevitable individual failings but, rather, a source for renewal of vibrant communities. A timely reappropriation of ancient moral wisdom. --Bryce Christensen

Review

"Drawing on the Bible and classical rabbinical commentaries on the Bible, David Hazony adds his own insights to illuminate the central significance the Ten Commandments possess for modern life.  In this broad ranging work, Hazony addresses the most existentially pressing issues of human concern--community, integrity, relationships, values, repair of the world--and judiciously mines these central biblical directives for the guidance and inspiration they provide for human life both personal and communal.  This is a book of genuine wisdom."

-David Ellenson, President Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion



“One of the greatest of Jewish literary arts is that of spinning brilliant and relevant disquisitions out of terse ancient texts, and David Hazony is a master at it. An exegesis of the Ten Commandments is precisely the book that needed to be written right now, and we are lucky that Hazony was around to write it.”  –Judith Shulevitz, author of The Sabbath World: Glimpses of a Different Order of Time

“David Hazony accomplishes the seemingly impossible: He manages, after three thousand years of commentary, to extract new, even startling meaning, from the Ten Commandments. He has written a book of truth and beauty that avoids pieties and renders these half-remembered injunctions profoundly relevant to our lives today.”

–Yossi Klein Halevi, author of At the Entrance to the Garden of Eden: A Jew’s Search for God with Christians and Muslims in the Holy Land


More About the Author

My first book, "The Ten Commandments: How Our Most Ancient Moral Text Can Renew Modern Life" (Scribner) is on sale now! For info about the book, events, and more, visit my website at http://davidhazony.com

Over the years I've published pieces on religion, Israel, and more in The New Republic, Forward, Moment, Commentary, CNN.com, The New York Sun, the Jewish Chronicle, Policy Review, the Jerusalem Post, and others. I also blog regularly at Contentions, the blog of Commentary Magazine. On the more scholarly side, I spent 4 years as editor of Azure, the quarterly journal of Jewish public affairs, have edited 3 books of Jewish and Israeli thought, and have a Ph.D in Jewish Philosophy from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. I also translated Emuna Elon's novel "If You Awaken Love," which was a finalist for the National Jewish Book Award in 2007.

You can catch me on Twitter at @davidhazony, or visit my book's Facebook fan page at http://on.fb.me/NJpQpn Hope to see you there!

Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars
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The good thing is that it doesn't read like a textbook, it flows well.
RobLokkesmoe
Hazony argues that out of all the scriptures the 10 commandments were understood by the Hebrews as the core not only of faith, but of moral wisdom as well.
David Kenney
Read it slowly, ponder it often, and it may just change your personal life for the better.
Robert W. Gorman

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

25 of 26 people found the following review helpful By David Kenney on September 29, 2010
Format: Hardcover
So what happened was this - I have a few "facebook Rabbis" as friends, so since facebook knows my "preferences" - I sometimes get Hebrew related advertisements. Hey, who couldn't use a discount on Matza?

Anyway, one day I get an advert in my upper right corner about this new book by David Hazony on the 10 Commandments. I think to myself, `I like books, I like books on the Old Testament, and this guy David Hazony sounds like a "dope authority" on the subject. So why not pick it up?

Hazony did his doctoral studies in Jewish Philosophy, he also translated Emuna Elon's novel "If You Awaken Love," which was a finalist for the National Jewish Book Award in 2007.

From 2004-2007, Hazony served as editor-in-chief of Azure, the quarterly journal of Jewish public thought published by the Shalem Center; and his writings have appeared in The New Republic, the Forward, Commentary, Moment, The Jewish Chronicle, Jewish Ideas Daily, The New York Sun, Policy Review, the Jerusalem Post, Azure, and others. He also blogs regularly at Contentions, the blog of Commentary Magazine.

To start, I loved this book - fell in love with it right away. Hazony's voice is easy to read and his chapters break down easily as he takes each "commandment" a chapter at a time. Not only does he give you a clear understanding of each commandment, but he takes it a few more steps - how the Hebrews would have understood them in history, how they often are observed today and what the "deeper" thought is behind each one.

"The 1o Commandments is neither an archaic remnant of a dead past nor an arbitrary set of laws handed down to a hundred generations of hungry supplicants and rebellious fools.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Robert W. Gorman on October 24, 2010
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Many books or articles about the bible inspire totally FOR or AGAINST reactions, eliminating any truly thoughtful response. This book is different. The author, David Hazony, has both a religious AND a secular viewpoint about the bible. He encourages the reader to read it with an open mind allowing both religious and practical viewpoints. Predominantly he turns it from a theoretical discussion to how it affects you the reader in a personal way. His notion of a redemptive approach, centering on making life better, in this world, for those we love, is refreshing. Read it slowly, ponder it often, and it may just change your personal life for the better.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By St. Philologus on May 6, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The author did a wonderful job with this work and the reader isn't overwhelmed with lofty theological ideas or doctrines and one might think could happen. One can tell that the author is competent in both Jewish tradition and culture and yet he also is approachable to the Christian or even those who consider themselves religiously unaffliated. He does imply sharp contrasts in the differing dogmas of Judaism and Christianity, but not in any derogatory way. Each chapter is dedicated to a commandment which brings an ease to the reading that one can appericate, especially if one likes to read by chapters. Some portions of the book are profound and it pains the reader when he realizes the point or concept being presented is coming to an end. Conversely other parts of the work tend to go down some rabbit holes from time to time.

Overall the book was a pleasurable experince that exposes the reader to some intriguing rabbitic philosophy that some curious Chirstians might find appealing as well as very practical ideas regarding living and life. The author does a masterful job of blending the spiritual with the practical. Some of the more evangelical-minded might find the author's language wanting, but if a more broader audience was sought, this work has succeed.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Kathy Edens on August 4, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I am not Jewish and certainly not a biblical scholar so I really wanted a discussion of how the 10 commandments fit into life today. Taken as written they seem pretty straightforward. However, after reading this book it seems they don't mean at all what they say. For example "thou shalt not kill" really means thou shalt not murer, shich is a relief because as the author discusses, that would require no effort toward self-defense if attacked, and the military would be doomed. Honoring one's mother and father is required because of what they teach us, not, apparently, because of how they treated us. That is somewhat troubling because I'm sure many parents who abuse their children, or teach them criminal ways do not deserve honoring. And coveting our neighbor's .... (insert whichever possession is appropriate), has more to do with a sense of community than it does jealousy.I think I'll have to put this book aside for a while and maybe read some others on this subject, then return and re-read this to see if I understand it better. Perhaps then I could revise my rating.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Dean Lutrin on March 5, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is very similar to much of the literature published by the Shalem Centre. It is relevant, articulate and has a strong political focus. I enjoyed it immensely. David Hazony is spot-on in his assessment of many of modern society's ills. Some chapters are stronger than others but it is a well constructed book. I particularly enjoyed his treatment of the first two commandments as well his discussions on the tension in society between selfishness and selflessness.
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