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Asimov's Guide to the Bible: Two Volumes in One, the Old and New Testaments Hardcover – December 12, 1988
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Top Customer Reviews
However, whether you are Christian or not, Asimov does an excellent job of placing the events of the bible in a historical context. There are dozens of maps, which I found invaluable--for example he provides a sequence of maps that cover from 1 Samuel through 2 Kings that show the changing boundaries of Israel and Judah from the reign of Saul through David and Solomon and onwards. He also provides a chronology of important events in biblical times, covering primarily biblical events but also other historical events.
Although Asimov was not a Christian, there is little here that can be construed as a direct attack on Christianity, unless you feel that a secular approach to the bible is already an attack. Occasionally his approach highlights points which an atheist will be happy to see, such as the fact that the later gospels ascribe more miracles to Christ than the earlier ones do, or the fact that the gospel of John has many inconsistencies with the other three. For the most part, however, Asimov sidesteps the question of Christian truth.
The book is now thirty years old, and as a result does not contain the latest scholarship. However, it is not intended as a scholarly work: instead it's a very readable presentation of a great deal of the fascinating background to the most influential book in Western civilization.
Each book of the Jewish Bible and New Testament are covered as well as several non-canonical books. The evolution of contemporary Judaism and Christianity thought can be traced through the mythical stories of genesis, the Yawists of ancient Israel, the influence of Babylonian, Persian, and Greek beliefs as well as the Babylonian exile and Roman persecutions which inspired biblical apocalyptic writings. Great watershed events such as the invasion and conquest of Canaan by the Hebrew tribes, the establishment of the Davidic dynasty by Samuel, the splitting of the Israel/Judah confederacy due to Solomon's policies in building the first temple, the conquest of Israel by the Assyrians, the conquest of Judah and destruction of the first temple by the Babylonians, the return from the Babylonian exile and construction of the second temple, the destruction of the second temple by the Romans, the life and crucifixion of Jesus, and the establishment of the Christian religion through Paul's efforts are all covered in this 1200+ page tome.
Asimov's book reads like a historical novel which is more readable and easier to understand than reading the bible cold. After reading through this book, I feel confident in engaging my Christian and Jewish friends in discussions about the bible and in most cases, am more knowledgeable about their holy book than they are.
I also love the Bible, and knowing old Issac is an Athiest I bought this book with a degree of trepidation.
My trepidation was unfounded. Asimov treats the Bible with respect and understanding. He recognises many of the Old Testament Prophecies about Jesus (another point that concerned me, knowing of Asimov's Jewish heritage).
He puts the Bible into its wider historical perspective.
This isn't the first book I will refer to to understand a part of the Bible, but it is one to which I will often refer.
that said, asimov is an avowed atheist, and there is a clear bias against christianity. but that's fine- i don't mind having my beliefs challenged, and his points are food for thought.
if i have any complaints, it's that asimov rarely cited his sources, and i would have liked to read some of those books as well.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
He seems to assume that you have your masters in Middle-eastern...Read more