The Gifts of the the Jews: A Review

The Gifts of the The Jews, by Thomas Cahill is an interesting book. Part Old Testament history and part explaining “how a tribe of desert nomads changed the way everyone thinks and feels,” I expected to enjoy it. 

Image source: Goodreads
Basically it's about the legacy of the Jewish people. How they produced the foundations of modern western thought, and how they changed the way individuals, justice, and so many other important things are viewed.

And I did enjoy reading it. But I almost put the book down during the first 50 pages; to be honest, I was bored. But I continued reading, and wasn't disappointed, for the most part. There are some passages that just ring with eloquent clarity and intense truth. They were excellent.

Like this one:

There is no way around life and its sufferings. Our only choice is whether we will be consumed by the fire of our own heedless fears and passions of allow God to refine us in his fire and to shape us into a fitting instrument for his revelation, as he did Moshe. We need not fear God as we fear all other suffering, which burns and maims and kills. For God's fire, though it will perfect us, will not destroy, for “the bush was not consumed.”

I appreciated the parts of the book like that. They were very well written, and while they acknowledged perhaps uncomfortable truths, they still had hope.

But I didn't agree with all of the book, for example: “it is no longer possible to possible to believe that every word of the Bible was inspired by God.” And from time to time I found myself thinking No, you cannot just ignore this part in the Bible, or misinterpret it just because A is followed by B and you want C to come next, instead.

But overall I found to book very engaging. I didn't agree with all the author's views, but it was well written and well presented.


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