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Customer Reviews for Random House, Inc The Gifts of the Jews

Random House, Inc The Gifts of the Jews

In The Gifts of the Jews, Thomas Cahill (Desire of The Everlasting Hills) reveals the critical change that made Western civilization possible. Within the matrix of ancient religions and philosophies, life was seen as part of an endless cycle of birth and death; time was like a wheel, spinning irrevocably until ancient Jews began to see time differently, as a narrative whose triumphant conclusion would come in the future. Full of compelling stories, insights, and humor, The Gifts of the Jews is an irresistable exploration of the origins of some of our oldest and most closely held beliefs. This is Volume II of The Hinges of History.
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Customer Reviews for The Gifts of the Jews
Review 1 for The Gifts of the Jews
Overall Rating: 
3 out of 5
3 out of 5

A story half-told

Date:June 8, 2013
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David Gough
Location:Alexandria, VA
Age:55-65
Gender:male
Quality: 
3 out of 5
3 out of 5
Value: 
3 out of 5
3 out of 5
Meets Expectations: 
3 out of 5
3 out of 5
I wasn't sure what I was getting into when I purchased a copy of Thomas Cahill's "The Gifts of the Jews." Having read and enjoyed his "How the Irish Saved Civilization," I was hoping for more than I found in this one. The positive side of the book is that it is very well written and flows in an interesting and entertaining manner. In a style that blends humor with the academic, it relates the story of the Jewish people from pre-Abrahamic days through the end of the Old Testament. It is, in a sense, it is an Old Testament theology presented with a theologically-liberal bias. Cahill captures much of the ethical teaching of the Old Testament while claiming that most of the stories are mythical, thereby missing their true point. Numerous passages are quoted, but very few with references or annotation. I found this to be an annoying weakness to the book. Although he provides much food for thought, the fact that he does not believe the Scriptures to have been inspired (and, therefore, not inerrant) seriously weakens his credibility with evangelical readers. In fact, he takes a pretty harsh slap at those individuals near the end of the book when he writes, "It is no longer possible to believe that every word of the Bible was inspired by God. Fundamentalists still do, but they can keep up self-delusion only by scrupulously avoiding all forms of scientific inquiry." In other words, he believes they are not as smart as he is! Being confronted with such a charge, Cahill puts me in mind of a Bart Ehrman...although I believe I would find Cahill to be a much more interesting dinner companion. The author can be crude at times and is also guilty of assuming what has no basis except in his own thought. But the most serious criticism of the book is his omission of any serious discussion concerning the messianic hope of the Jews, which was realized by those who welcomed the first advent Jesus Christ. Cahill makes no outward claim to being a "Christian," at least in the historic and traditional sense of the word, so his failure to recognize that everything contained in the Law of Moses, the Prophets, and the Psalms pointed to Jesus (cf. Luke 24:44) is at least understandable (but not forgivable). The liberal sources cited at the end of the book reveal the school of theological thought he comes from. I would not recommend this book to many, and I am more than a little dismayed at an earlier reviewer who found it helpful for a group Bible study.
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Review 2 for The Gifts of the Jews
This review is fromGifts of the Jews.
Overall Rating: 
5 out of 5
5 out of 5

Date:September 15, 2010
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Cynthia Postell
This is a wonderful book for understanding just what the impact of the decisions of the patriarch of israel made on the way we think today. It goes beyond the understanding you gain from Hebrew 101 to how the people lived life and practiced faith.I have used it in a Women's Group and most are finding it very revealing.
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