A well-researched biblical exegesis that should equally interest the novice and the expert.

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A RELIGIOUS CURSE: JUDEO-CHRISTIAN HISTORY

A scholarly study of Judeo-Christian heritage examines the roots of anti-Jewish sentiment.

Debut author Gutbrod writes that he was raised by Catholic parents in a household dominated by a virulently anti-Semitic worldview. He says that he drank deeply from this poisoned well until he started to seriously study the Bible and the historical context that informed its development. In this book, he contends that Judaism evolved under the rule of the Roman Empire but that Romans chafed at Jews’ embrace of their own nationalistic identity. Partly as a result of the harsh response of Roman leaders, a pummeled Judaism splintered into distinct sects—a fracturing that birthed Christianity. But although the early Christians still identified as Jews, they progressively established their own theological identity and their own authoritative Scriptures. According to the author, the schism between Judaism and Christianity widened when Christians curried favor with Rome by defaming the Jewish people as a seditious threat. It was not Jews, Gutbrod says, but Romans who truly executed Jesus, even if Roman prefect Pontius Pilate tried to make it seem as if the matter was decided by Jews alone. The legacy of anti-Semitism only intensified, he says, when the Gospels were written about 40 years later and the acrimony between Jews and Christians was at a fever pitch. Overall, Gutbrod’s scholarship is incandescently sharp and judicious, and he pieces together a biblical hermeneutic that meticulously considers not only the human imprint on the text, but also its historical and revelatory character: “What I have attempted to relate in this book is how human nature can twist and manipulate sacred literature in order to justify present concerns or needs.” As a result, he provides a clinic in exegetical temperance, slowly considering all the possible interpretations of the text and letting the evidence point to the most plausible conclusions.

A well-researched biblical exegesis that should equally interest the novice and the expert. 

Pub Date: Jan. 4, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-5320-0354-7

Page Count: 332

Publisher: iUniverse

Review Posted Online: April 21, 2017

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

THE 48 LAWS OF POWER

The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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