The Gifts of the Jews: How a Tribe of Desert Nomads Changed the Way Everyone Thinks and Feels


book
by Thomas Cahill. Anchor Books, 1998.

Amazon.com
Thomas Cahill, author of the bestselling How the Irish Saved Civilization, continues his Hinges of History series with The Gifts of the Jews, a light-handed, popular account of ancient Jewish culture, the culture of the Bible. The book is written from a decidedly modern point of view. Cahill notes, for instance, that Abraham moved the Jews from Ur to the land of Canaan "to improve their prospects," and that the leering inhabitants of Sodom surrounded Lot's lodging "like the ghouls in Night of the Living Dead." The Gifts of the Jews nonetheless encourages us to see the Old Testament through ancient eyes--to see its characters not as our contemporaries but as those of Gilgamesh and Amenhotep. Cahill also lingers on often-overlooked books of the Bible, such as Ruth, to discuss changes in ancient sensibility. The result is a fine, speculative, eminently readable work of history. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

The New York Times Book Review, Susan Shapiro
He stumbles on the odd aside and occasionally is surprisingly insensitive.... Still, his passion and breadth of knowledge are admirable.

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