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Judaism: A Very Short Introduction Paperback – June 15, 2000

4.0 out of 5 stars 12 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

`Throughout Solomon's Judaism there is a freshness of approach which will make it interesting to those who already know something about Judaism. The conversational style will also make it valuable for beginners.' Marcus Braybrooke, Church Times

`Just as its name implies, this series features concise works that aim to give a crisp insight into otherwise complicated topics ... complicated subjects are condensed and made simple, to whet the appetite or provide just enough material for those with a casual interest.' Bournemouth Evening Echo

`Norman Solomon has achieved the near impossible with his enlightened Very Short Introduction to Judaism. He manages to keep the reader engaged, never patronizes, assumes little knowledge but a keen mind, and takes us through Jewish life and history with such gusto that one feels enlived, rather than exhausted, at the end.' Rabbi Julia Neuberger

`A magnificent achievement. Dr Solomon's treatment, fresh, very readable, witty and stimulating, will delight everyone interested in religion in the modern world.' Louis Jacobs, University of Lancaster

`This book will serve a very useful purpose indeed. I'll use it myself to discuss, to teach, agree with, and disagree with, in the Jewish manner!' Rabbi Lionel Blue

About the Author

Dr Norman Solomon is a freelance writer and journalist, and a regular contributor to the Jewish Chronicle. He is a Fellow in Modern Jewish Thought at the Oxford Centre for Hebrew and Jewish Studies. His previous publications include Judaism and World Religion and he contributed to The Oxford Companion to the Jewish Religion.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; New Ed edition (June 15, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0192853902
  • ISBN-13: 978-0192853905
  • Product Dimensions: 7 x 0.4 x 4.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #717,090 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Andrew Tevington on February 2, 2002
Format: Paperback
Christians tend to believe they know all they need to know about Judaism because their Old Testament consists of the Hebrew Scriptures. This book does an excellent job of showing Christians (and others) that Judaism today is more than Abraham, Moses and David. With the destruction of the Temple in 70 CE, Judaism was forced to adapt and in many ways redefine itself. This easily read book explains the development of Rabbinic Judaism as opposed to Biblical Judaism. Anyone who claims to be a student of world religions should read it. Any Christian who wants to develop a better understanding of what was happening to Judaism in the early days of Christianity should also read it.
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Format: Paperback
Complete with fine remarks and introductory tutorials, Norman Solomon exerted accurate perceptions in this pamphlet.
"Judaism: A Very Short Introduction" gave a run-through of every aspect of (ancient and modern) judaism. Its time-saving structure is neat: without omitting any of the vital issues which concerned the religion and its followers. This book is well-blended. It maintained proportionate dispositions towards religious practices, cultural heritage, and evolutionary anthropology. There is hardly any weakness in its presentations.
Anybody who needs an insight into the 'dos' and 'don'ts' of judaism would find it useful. Its summarized contents included all the transformations, which the ancient religion has undergone.
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The PBS series The Jewish Americans happened to be showing, while I was reading this book, and the two complemented each other very well. I wholeheartedly recommend both. World Jewry numbers around 13 million, maybe as many as 18 million, depending on whom and how you count. More than 6 million live in the US, more even than in Israel itself.

Being British, Solomon presents a somewhat Eurocentric view, but not to the extent that it is a problem, and I don't think American readers are for the most part troubled by the occasional British spelling or usage.

It must be a daunting prospect for a scholar, having to condense a vast store of knowledge into one of these little books, deciding what to include and what must go, but Solomon judges this well. He emphasizes the diversity and continuing evolution of Judaism, correcting common misconceptions about how ancient or orthodox certain aspects of Judaism are. He also lays special stress on the importance of the Holocaust and of modern Israel in shaping contemporary Jewish thought.

There are plenty of basic facts - descriptions of festivals, etc - included here, as you would expect. It also raises a great many issues and cites a number of authors, making this an excellent place to begin a more detailed study, if you wished.

Solomon writes well, with a light, sometimes even humorous touch, where appropriate. He was a lecturer at Oxford when this book was first published in 1996, but is now retired, I believe. A revised edition wouldn't go amiss. Perhaps he is too busy working on his Penguin Classics Talmud, which is due out soon and should be worth reading. He is not to be confused with the American activist of the same name, although Amazon does exactly that, so that if you click on either author, you get a list of books by both of them. Take it from me, they are very different!
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Excellent work. Some of the authors' insights were interesting, especially when he discusses Judaism's split from Christianity. His description of Rabbinic Judaism, especially the Talmud and Oral Law, was superior to many other authors. He explained to the average reader that Rabbinic Judaism is where contemporary Judaism developed from. Few Jews and non-Jews understand this, and think Judaism ended with the Hebrew Scriptures. A great book.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Not bad for an introduction. But a bit long-winded at points (which is somewhat ironic for a "Very Short Introduction"). At times, I feel like the author could move to the next point, but instead he provides multiple quotes from multiple Old Testament portions that I could look up on my own if I wanted to read the passages
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Love it! The authors of the Very Short Introduction books do a great job, if done slightly dry, of laying out a quick-guide to whatever subject you'd like an overview of! Definately recommended if you are in to life-long learning.
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