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Common Prayers: Faith, Family, and a Christian's Journey Through the Jewish Year Paperback – November 12, 2002
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When the Christian theologian Harvey Cox married Nina Tumarkin, a Jewish woman, he plunged into a "crash course in interfaith relations." Cox's Common Prayers reminds readers that there was a literal space in Jerusalem's ancient Temple called the Court of the Gentiles, where Jews welcomed all "strangers and sojourners" to worship alongside them. In an age of interfaith marriage, Cox asserts that the Court of the Gentiles has considerable symbolic resonance. It is, figuratively, a space where thousands of husbands and wives of Jewish women and men find themselves every day. Cox's memoir of family life follows the Jewish calendar, describing Yom Kippur, Rosh Hashanah, Hanukah, and Christmas, as well as events such as death and marriage. Travelers often find wisdom in foreign experiences, and Cox is no exception. His Christian experience of Jewish life has not diluted his faith but made it broader and more nuanced. With candor, wit, and insight, Cox brings readers into the Court of the Gentiles. --Michael Joseph Gross --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Library Journal
In Many Mansions: A Christian's Encounter with Other Faiths, Cox (divinity, Harvard) explored world religions. Here, he focuses on Judaism, and his perspective is quite personal: his wife, Nina Tumarkin (Russian history, Wellesley), is Jewish, and together they have raised a son who, at 14, has recently become "bar mitzvah" in the Jewish faith. Arranged as a journey through the Jewish year, this work guides readers from one Rosh Hashanah (New Year's Day) to the next, with several other milestones in Jewish life weddings, funerals, births, bar mitzvahs thrown in. Cox not only provides a clear guide to Judaism for "perplexed gentiles" but convincingly argues that "appreciating Judaism, both its history and its present manifestation, is essential to a full understanding of Christianity," lending "depth and resonance to all the ideas that are central to my faith: how I understand the nature of God, the purpose of human life, the significance of Jesus, and the meaning of faith." An important new book by a major theologian; highly recommended. Marcia Welsh, formerly with Guilford Free Lib., CT
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top customer reviews
The early chapters are brilliant. Dr. Cox brings a basic understanding of the calendar and mitzot. Then on top of that, Dr, Cox brings in an added dimension of his unique perspective: an outsiders view as a noted Christian theologian; an insiders view as the spouse of a Jewish woman. He structures the book around sacred times, a terrific way to connect the disorganized and disparate community of Jews. For this reason, I have chosen to use this volume extensively when teaching my undergraduate class at a Franciscan college where my students struggle to find the connection between the religion they learned from the nuns and the one I am presenting. In the middle of the book he falls apart. Until the chapter on Israel Independence day, each chapter had a link to the calendar. The Israel Independence day chapter confuses this holiday with New York's Israel day Parade. Then Dr. Cox drops the pretense of talking about the holiday and uses the chapter as a wedge for his ambivalent attitude about a Jewish state. The travelogue about his visit to a Palestinian home, for example. Dr. Cox has a wonderful experience in a Palestinian home. The story does not belong in the book because its a story about Palestinian Arabs, but not about Jews or Judaism. Jews don't appear in the story. Saying that there are wonderful Palestinians doesn't say anything about Jews or Judaism. Without a Jew or Jews in the story, it doesn't even say something about the relationship between Jews and Palestinians. If he wanted to say things about the relationship between Jews and Arabs, he needed both cultures in the story. To draw a conclusion about the Jewish State from the story about good Palestinian Arabs is a reach for bias rather than reason. The chapters have an extensive section on the Baptist relationship with messianic visions of apocalypse. I found this section informative, but it was no longer the about perspective on Judaism. It was about Baptist Christianity and the end of days. Dr. Cox talks about ministers and US Presidents, but not Jews. The following chapter has begins with a quote about Jerusalem and knowing the Jewish calendar, I can see how it was intended as the holiday Yom Yerushalyim which celebrates the 1967 reunification of the city. But the chapter is not about the holiday at all and if you do not know the holiday exists then this chapter would seem random. It again spends time on Christian views of Israel rather than on Dr. Cox's unique perspective on Judaism. He never really gets it back. His chapters on life-cycles focus on his personal experience without significantly balancing them against Jewish norms or sources. These were interesting to read with my synagogue book discussion group, because the flawed and narrow perspective left us with issues to disparage and I strongly recommend the book for a discussion group. Its as if Dr. Cox grew bored in the middle of the book and rushed to the end. The chapters on holidays and those on life-cycles get out of sequence. The chapter on death and mourning proceeds the chapter on Tisha B'av. Where did the editor go? Why Shavuot was skipped; why was circumcision so minimized when it is the most ancient of ceremonies? Ugh.