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You Shall Be As Gods: A Radical Interpretation of the Old Testament and Its Tradition Paperback – July, 1991

4.8 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 241 pages
  • Publisher: Henry Holt & Co (P); Reprint edition (July 1991)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0805016058
  • ISBN-13: 978-0805016055
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 5.8 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 0.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,271,609 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By Dr. Lee D. Carlson HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on May 28, 2002
Format: Paperback
Erich Fromm is not only an interesting thinker but a fine writer, and in this book, one of many that he has written and all of which I have read, he outlines what he calls a radical humanist interpretation of the Old Testament and its history and traditions. In this interpretation, the concept of God evolved from that of a jealous, vengeful spirit to that of a constitutional monarch, and ultimately to a nameless God who is bound by the same morals and principles that govern humankind. Fromm is convincing in his arguments, and even for those readers who will remain unconvinced after the reading of the book, all will no doubt take away an appreciation of the depth of his scholarship.
All of the three major Western religions: Islam, Christianity, and Judaism, owe their origins to the Old Testament, whether this is acknowledged or not, and all have to this day a powerful influence on the lives of millions of people. And yes, as Fromm states in the book, the world's populations do hold a materialistic philosophy that is coupled with ever-increasing globalization and technology, but the acquisition of material goods and the indulgence of their pleasures coexists with a commitment to spirtual values and religion. This superposition of religious and materialistic philosophy shows no sign of abatement.
The radical humanism of Fromm is a philosophy that is delightfully optimistic, and emphasizes the capacity of humans to develop their intellectual powers, to become fully independent, to understand reality as it is, and a renunciation of the initiation of force, the latter of which, Fromm argues, results in intellectual disintegration and emotional dependence.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
This book shows how the Old Testament contained some key humanistic ideas that did transform our culture. This is the most historical of the books written by Erich Fromm. The commentary made the Old Testament feel both alive and strangely modern for me. The book quotes the Old Testament extensively in a kind of psychological, sociological, and liberal biblical study. This makes the book fairly rare and unique. I would recommend it to anyone who likes reading Erich Fromm and who wants to see a different side of him.
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Format: Paperback
Fromm, a radical humanist (and a nonbeliever in God) still writes in the great Jewish tradition of optimism and of belief in human potential. Fromm had an excellent traditional Jewish upbringing, and although more traditional thinkers will disagree with his conclusions, they are at least well grounded in Old Testament texts.

The book is a bit dated in that one of its intellectual underpinnings is the belief that human beings can perfect themselves through self-understanding, specifically through psychoanalysis. The twenty-first century has not been charitable to that conclusion.
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Erich Fromm (1900-1980)wrote a facinating study of the Hebrew Bible or Old Testament. His book YOU SHALL BE AS GODS is an interesting view of Old Testament literature. Fromm focused on the concepts and convictions of the Old Testament as opposed to formality and fixation on traditions. Fromm's book was an attempt to integrate such ideas as compassion, kindness, mercy, etc. with traditions to make the Old Testament literature a call to action rather than comfortable apathy. Fromm cited interesting quotes from the Rabbincal Midrash and Talmud.

The beginning sections of the book provided an interesting study of interpretations of God. Fromm argued that God changed from an unrestrained tyrant to a constitutional monarch Who was bound by His own convenents and rules. For example, even God repented re the Flood Story when He repented via Genesis 9:11. When Abraham confronted God re Genesis 18, Abraham bluntly asked God if God would act unjustly by condemning the innocent with the guilty. Fromm cited Moses' attempt to undermine God's wrath. An interesting interpretation of these confrontations is intimacy with the Supreme Being. Closeness to God and His "laws" is a thoughtful analysis.

Yet, Fromm was clear that closeness to God was NOT an attempt to define God. The phrase in Exodus 3:14 that, "I AM WHO I AM" was attempt to deter idol worship. Fromm noted that idols are dead while God and people are creative and active. Men and woman should act and should act according to God's commands and rules. Basically, as Fromm knew, the Ancient Hebrews had different views of God. God could be tied to the land and race of the Hebrews. Or God could be universal as suggested in the narrative re Noah when God made a convenent with the human race.
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