A valuable, wide-ranging Christian study of the book of Ezra, complete with life lessons.


A Christian writer examines the book of Ezra.

In this compact work, Robertson quickly gets down to the business of explaining and extrapolating the Old Testament book of Ezra. The author opens by asserting that “Ezra is an encapsulated recording of God’s work of redemption.” He relates that the work, written between 455 and 444 B.C., begins in 538 B.C. during the reign of the Persian King Cyrus. Robertson tells his readers that Ezra reveals the story of “how God rebuilt the national and spiritual life of Israel.” The author goes through the book section by section and passage by passage, expanding on the Israelites’ history outlined at each juncture. One of Ezra’s central points encompasses both the spiritual rebuilding of Israel and the literal reconstruction of the great Temple of Jerusalem. Robertson concentrates a great deal of his scholarly attention on the specific sequence of historical events alluded to throughout Ezra. (The author’s reference to a “simple man” in his volume’s title is belied a bit by his obviously extensive research and frequent references to the original Aramaic of his subject.) But Robertson also works in a liberal amount of Christian exhortation, mapping the literal content of Ezra onto broader Christian living applications. When writing about the process of rebuilding the Temple, for instance, he widens the focus smoothly. “You can not sneak into heaven!” he writes. “Every person called to God is to be a worker with and for God, to build His church.” Some of these elaborations take Robertson far afield of the technical study of his subject, usually into recognizably evangelical topics. “When we become Christians and invite Jesus to come into our hearts,” he writes at one point, “or when we renew our commitment to God after a period of living by and for ourselves, our enemy, Satan, hears our words and sees the change in our attitude and life.” The result is a very strong guide to Ezra and a thought-provoking, inspirational manual.

A valuable, wide-ranging Christian study of the book of Ezra, complete with life lessons.

Pub Date: Dec. 5, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-973608-05-9

Page Count: 114

Publisher: WestBowPress

Review Posted Online: Oct. 5, 2020

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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 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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This a book of earlier, philosophical essays concerned with the essential "absurdity" of life and the concept that- to overcome the strong tendency to suicide in every thoughtful man-one must accept life on its own terms with its values of revolt, liberty and passion. A dreary thesis- derived from and distorting the beliefs of the founders of existentialism, Jaspers, Heldegger and Kierkegaard, etc., the point of view seems peculiarly outmoded. It is based on the experience of war and the resistance, liberally laced with Andre Gide's excessive intellectualism. The younger existentialists such as Sartre and Camus, with their gift for the terse novel or intense drama, seem to have omitted from their philosophy all the deep religiosity which permeates the work of the great existentialist thinkers. This contributes to a basic lack of vitality in themselves, in these essays, and ten years after the war Camus seems unaware that the life force has healed old wounds... Largely for avant garde aesthetes and his special coterie.

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 1955

ISBN: 0679733736

Page Count: 228

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Sept. 19, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1955

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