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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Subtitle is a little misleading, January 28, 2007
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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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars He's talking to you now., December 3, 2006
By 
Lewis (Washington, DC) - See all my reviews
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.

I found my copy of this Rubenstein book in the philosophy section of an old bricks and mortar shop between Rousseau and Russell, but it could as easily be located between spirituality and politics, and coupled with ancient history and current events. This is one of those books that brings things all together, with a freshness and a familiarity that invites us all to reinvent. Thus Saith The Lord is about the way things are and the way they can be, as told to us by the voice of YHVH on prophetic tongues, from the taproot of monotheistic tradition to our own enactments of empire and globalization, our own opportunities for revolutionary moral action. This book is funny, deep, and serious. More than anything it is immediately relevant.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thus Saith the Lord makes good reading, February 4, 2007
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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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating Work- Puts the Prophets in Perspective, October 2, 2007
By 
Jay Young (Austin, TX USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
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. There are few who can make the readers understand the world the prophets lived in as Rubenstein does, and his discourse will help readers to read Isaiah and Jeremiah with renewed understanding and insight. Furthermore, his descriptions of the ancient empires that Israel had to contend against is fascinating. Finally, his application of the message of the prophets to the current American political situation is interesting, if not entirely convincing. His conclusion is that yes, the prophets do have something to teach the post-9/11 world- that we are all bound by the same obligations to justice, and that we must work together to achieve it.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Appreciation from a Rabbi, December 17, 2006
By 
Arthur C. Blecher (Washington, DC USA) - See all my reviews
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Thus Saith the Lord is one of the best commentaries on the Bible I have ever read. Professor Rubenstein masterfully reconstructs the original political, social and psychological contexts from which the great prophets Hebrew Isaiah and Jeremiah spoke. Meticulously researched and skillfully presented, this book makes these ancient messages come alive with a clarity and impact that speaks to our times. Rubenstein has succeeded in combining enthusiasm, insight and compassion to produce a book that manages to be both deeply profound and highly readable at the same time. I found myself cruising through the chapters. This inspiring book has given me new hope and a fresh outlook on the current world situation. I have already begun to apply Thus Saith the Lord to my work as a rabbi.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Entrancing read, February 5, 2007
By 
Author Richard Rubenstein has compiled a compelling text that reads like a tale of high adventure worthy of any of today's movie-going audiences. I was riveted to it from page one.

Rubenstein has intensely studied the historical texts that cover the time periods related by the Old Testament, and then added the scriptures themselves to produce an eye-popping treatise. In reading Thus Saith the Lord, I came to know Isaiah, Elijah, Elisha, and Jeremiah in a new and awesome light. They were all serious prophets to be reckoned with, and they were not to be denied. They spoke the truth. Reading about them may enable us to recognize the prophets speaking the truth today. Not all will accept the truth, but the truth will not be denied.

In Israel and Judah, Jeremiah and Isaiah advised different kings and priests with the words of God delivered through them as messenger-prophets. Such men warned a people to return to their moral roots and to right the wrongs of current society, because it was their calling to do so. Their words were not always heeded, and catastrophes of war came to pass for those who turned away, but the prophecies came to pass in full.

Isaiah spoke in poetic stanzas and Jeremiah used terrifying words. Elijah and Elisha had been their forerunners, using messages from God and outlandish deeds to warn the leadership of the Middle East to seek right conduct. Together, they all contributed to the development of our contemporary methods of justice and ethical conduct, under Jehovah God.

Today, we want an unflinching standard and a hero who will enforce it for us. That does not always occur, but we do have two dozen brands of court TV, each meting out a small measure of justice. How we wish that this could be broadened to encompass the world of wars and powers!

Rubenstein's chapter titles about a time when justice was more certain are attention-grabbing, including:

-- If YHVH Is God, Follow Him!--Elijah, I Kings 18:21

-- The Heart Is More Devious Than Any Other Thing--Jeremiah 17:9

-- I Will Make You the Light of the Nations--Isaiah 49:6

I was entranced by each chapter.

Armchair Interviews says: Those interested in history, justice, and adventure will love this book.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Don't miss this book, March 21, 2009
By 
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It's not only that Richard Rubenstein has done an exhaustive amount of historical, anthropological and social research into the world that the Isaiahs and Jeremiah lived in, which is great enough. He is an incredible story teller. I couldn't put this book down just because it was so exciting. I also highly recommend another of his books, "When Jesus Became God." which tells the story of how the early Christian Church fought over and who finally won the battle for whether Jesus would be considered Prophet, Rabi, Messiah or God Incarnate.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars America's Leaders Need to Read This Book!, December 13, 2006
By 
Avid Reader (Fairfax, Virginia) - See all my reviews
THUS SAITH THE LORD is a remarkable work of historical storytelling. To my knowledge, the great Old Testament prophets have never before been presented as living, breathing human beings responding to the earth-shattering events of their own time. Rubenstein puts us in the middle of the action, showing us what it felt like to confront the superpowers of the Middle East during the world's first Age of Empire. Moreover, recent events in American history make the teachings of Isaiah and Jeremiah seem to be aimed directly at our own leaders, from President Bush on down. Rubenstein's final chapter makes the overall lesson clear: either we learn to seek social justice, personal righteousness, and peace, or we suffer the fate of ancient Judah. Readers of all persuasions should also be interested in his interpretation of Jesus as a great Jewish prophet. I read this book in one sitting and couldn't put it down.
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Thus Saith the Lord: The Revolutionary Moral Vision of Isaiah and Jeremiah
Thus Saith the Lord: The Revolutionary Moral Vision of Isaiah and Jeremiah by Richard E. Rubenstein (Hardcover - November 13, 2006)
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