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Thus Saith the Lord: The Revolutionary Moral Vision of Isaiah and Jeremiah 1st Edition

4.7 out of 5 stars 10 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0151012190
ISBN-10: 0151012199
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The history of the ancient nation of Israel is marked by conflict and compromise, rebellion and repentance. Often at war with surrounding nations as well as with the God who brought Israel into existence, the people needed strong, authoritative voices calling them back to lives of holiness. In this clear and eminently readable account, Rubenstein studies two of those prophetic voices and demonstrates their unique place in history. Describing them as "influential political advisers as well as recipients of divine messages about history's inner meaning and direction," the author puts flesh on the stories of Isaiah and Jeremiah, who emerge as remarkable messengers of God. Rubenstein depicts their faults as well as their assets: Isaiah, bold and decisive, and Jeremiah, sometimes petulant but deeply committed and finally hopeful in the ultimate triumph of God's providence and plan for the chosen nation. A professor of conflict resolution and public affairs at George Mason University, Rubenstein is the author of two previous works, including the popular When Jesus Became God. As with that previous volume, this is beautifully written, offering the general reader as well as the scholar a compelling account of a turbulent time in Israel's history. (Nov.)
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From Booklist

Isaiah was a prophet active in Jerusalem in the eighth century BCE, during the reigns of four kings of Judah. Jeremiah (born circa 645 BCE) was a prophet during and following the last years of the kingdom of Judah. Rubenstein proposes that his ambition here is "to tell the stories of Isaiah, Jeremiah, and their contemporaries by situating them in their own time and place, and to discover on that basis what they might have to say to us more than 2,500 years later." He describes the evolution of our moral codes and how they changed the god of the Jews from "a local deity into the universal sovereign who requires ethical behavior and demands the pursuit of justice for all people." Rubenstein's research included reading Assyrian and Babylonian texts, poring over photographs of archaeological finds, and exploring the collections of West Asian antiquities in New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art, the British Museum, and Berlin's Vorderasiatisches Museum. The result is a lucid and meticulously argued book. George Cohen
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Harcourt; 1 edition (November 13, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0151012199
  • ISBN-13: 978-0151012190
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.3 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,934,183 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Jeffrey Leeper on January 28, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Whenever I pick up a book to read, I read the full title to give myself an idea of where the author is going. Here, the author's subtitle was "The Revolutionary Moral Vision of Isaiah and Jeremiah." Following from this, I thought the book would primarily cover the teachings/prophecies of these two biblical figures.

In reading the book, I see Elijah, Elisha, Jesus, Jeremiah, and two Isaiah's covered in the book. This isn't a bad thing, but it made me step back from the reading to wonder why the author chose to do this. After reading, I am still not sure why.

Setting that aside, I agree with another reviewer that this is a very readable book. Even though Richard Rubenstein has done a lot of research, the narrative flows quite easily. It was easy to get immersed in the text, and for that, I applaud the author.

Rubenstein places the prophets in their historical context, which at first put me off. It made me think that he was minimizing any idea of divine vision. Paying attention to the words, however, showed me that that was not his purpose. He was merely showing the reader the setting in which these prophets lived.

By giving us a firm understanding of the setting, the author then shows us a glimpse of today. At that point, the book suddenly becomes very clear and moving. This book is definitely intended to be taken as a whole. Merely reading chapter by chapter will not show the big picture. The reader has to compare the settings to see the pattern.

I would recommend this to others wanting a historical understanding of the Old Testament as well as people wanting a better perspective on today.
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Format: Hardcover
Richard Rubenstein has again accomplished the difficult task of delivering the lyrics of religious history with such clarity and ease as to win religious and secular audiences alike. While one might expect this book to be about ancient religious history, it is in fact about the eternal resonance of God's earliest Prophets even as we struggle today as individuals, nations, and a world system to make moral sense. It is a recalling of the living voice of the Prophets to guide us through *our* troubled times, at once incomprehensibly more complex than those faced by Jeremiah and Isaiah, and essentially the same. Globalization, empires, wars for resources and religion, societies struggling with their moral responsibilities, shape lives now as then.

This book brings alive the Bible's portraits of some of humanity's earliest spiritual heroes and invites them into our lives to remind us how we might respond to our central questions. While elsewhere the author has explored how Jesus became God, here Jesus is located within a prophetic tradition driving a moral revolution demanded by a vision of the unity of God that invites us to a human unity as well, through moral unity. Jolting yet breezy in its originality, provocative and compelling, this book brings the eternal resonance of the Prophets through the pages into the reality of our lives and our choices now. Stirring the mind with clear and enjoyable language accessible to all, Thus Saith The Lord echoes the prophetic call, reminding us of our highest hopes and champions of God who challenged us to live and grow in our darkest hours as well as the light.
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Format: Hardcover
Feel the need for religious voices advocating for the cause of justice and inclusion rather than hatred and arrogance? Wondering whose vision will lead us in a moral direction? Welcome to Thus Saith the Lord! Rubenstein not only brings people and historical periods to life, he also shows their effect on the present. Maps, endnotes, a selected bibliography and an index enhance the text. Readers of all faiths, or none, can enjoy and profit from Rubenstein's insights.
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Format: Hardcover
Richard Rubenstein is perhaps most famous for being a proponent of the "God is Dead" theology of the 1960s. "Thus Saith the Lord" is a far cry from that, however (though the before-mentioned theology probably lurks beneath the surface). Rubenstein has a gift for making an issue which most people find boring interesting, and this he does with the old testament prophets.

The author begins his book with a reflection on September 11, when he expressed wonderment that believers in one God could be capable of such crimes. So he decided to being an in-depth study the prophets (the nevi'im in the Hebrew bible) to see if they might have anything relevant to say to our post-9/11 world. From there, Rubenstein gives a narrative of 3 prophets- Elijah, Jeremiah, and Isaiah- and of their relationship to Israel. Rubenstein is an excellent storyteller, and his narrative makes history come alive. His basic thesis is that, when Jeremiah and Isaiah upbraid Israel not for failing to observe proper ritual, but for failing to show justice to the marginal of society, they extended the biblical ethic from a tribal to a universal scope. In addition, in portraying the Babylonians and Persians as agents of God's justice, Jeremiah and Isaiah extended the blessing of God from Israel to all humanity. Rubenstein claims that Jeremiah and Isaiah taught the uselessness of imperial power, and the link between local injustice and global catastrophe. The last paragraph in his book sums up how the author applies the prophets to today: "Baal or YHVH. Coercion or Justice. Domination from above or globalization from below. Now, as ever, the choice is ours."

Anyone who wants to understand the prophets from a Jewish perspective would do well to read this book.
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