From Publishers Weekly
When New York film critic Robinson began attending synagogue—something he had not done since his adolescence—he found himself confused. His vain search for a printed guide led him to write Essential Judaism
, a well-received primer on Jewish customs, rituals, history and worship. The success of that one-volume handbook to Jewish practice in turn led Robinson to produce this manual on the Torah and what Jews believe. Writing in colloquial and accessible English, Robinson effectively, and sometimes entertainingly, shows why the five books of Moses constitute the basis for Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Drawing on a dazzling array of sources, he provides an overview of the Torah, tackles the question of who wrote it, explores the commentaries, confronts the suppression of women's voices and bravely tackles what Bible scholars have labeled "troubling texts." Despite his valiant and informative effort, Robinson joins the ranks of his many predecessors in failing to find a satisfactory resolution to some of these disturbing stories. The second half of the book contains summaries of the 54 Torah portions, along with Robinson's useful commentaries. This book is a stellar achievement in which a gifted and diligent author guides readers of all faiths to a source book for religious belief and behavior. (Oct. 31)
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is the most comprehensive of the new group of Bible commentaries . . . a work that may rank for both depth and breadth with the late Rabbi Isaac Klein’s A Guide to Jewish Religious Practice
as a resource and reference site. [It] offers the most context, the most interpretation, the most interest. Robinson takes the reader through not only the Five Books of Moses . . . but through everything connected with the Torah in its largest, more-sweeping sense, from the production of an actual Torah scroll and an introduction to the Hebrew language, to the role of biblical criticism and the inherent difficulties in drawing complex rules of behavior from the Torah’s simple words.”–The Jewish Week
“An accessible, well-written handbook to Jewish belief as set forth in the Torah. Most laudably, Robinson tackles some of the tough issues posed by the ambiguities, anachronisms, repetitions, and contradictions in the text. . . . His success with Essential Judaism
is now matched by this superb manual that effectively guides readers to the ultimate source for Jewish belief and behavior.”
–The Jerusalem Post
draws on both ancient and modern critical methods, citing the thoughts of scholars across a broad spectrum of Jewish ideological beliefs. It will undoubtedly be of interest, help, and guidance to non-Jews and Jews alike. It does an excellent job for the audience it attempts to reach. Recommended.”–Library Journal
“Writing in colloquial and accessible English, Robinson effectively, and sometimes entertainingly, shows why the five books of Moses constitute the basis for Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Drawing on a dazzling array of sources, he provides an overview of the Torah; tackles the question of who wrote it; explores the commentaries; confronts the suppression of w...