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Elijah Between Judgement and Grace


An exhaustive look at an intriguing Old Testament figure.

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A review of historical, literary, and spiritual understandings of the biblical prophet Elijah.

Arnold uses the same multifaceted perspective that he brought to Esther: Surviving in a Hostile World (2015) to offer a detailed analysis of Elijah, “one of only two men who never had to die.” He begins with the idea that the prophet both “astounds and confounds” readers, building on two predominant perspectives among biblical scholars; one school of thought regards Elijah as “humble, courageous and obedient,” while the other views him as “proud, fearful, depressive and full of doubts.” Arnold synthesizes his vast amount of research on these competing notions into a larger discussion of Elijah’s strengths and weaknesses: “Elijah seems to struggle in the domain of grace, whereas he excels in the domain of judgement,” he writes, investigating these two biblical themes thoroughly and using them to help explain the prophet’s perplexing nature. The author writes extensively of the literary merits of 1 Kings and 2 Kings, which contain Elijah’s story, addressing literary devices and providing fascinating interpretations of Elijah’s treatment by God and by the biblical author: “the writer acts exactly like the LORD, who hands over Israel and her king to judgement, but pampers his prophet.” Arnold works to extend traditional literary studies, which are usually limited to specific chapters of Kings, by studying the entirety of the biblical book. His comparisons of Elijah and Moses, as well as his detailed historical context of the times in which Elijah lived, will be of interest to biblical scholars. Overall, the book offers a dense study of a contentious figure that may overwhelm readers who don’t already have a significant interest in Elijah. But those who do will appreciate Arnold’s succinct, engaging ideas.

An exhaustive look at an intriguing Old Testament figure.

Pub Date: Feb. 11, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-5084-1725-5

Page Count: 230

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Jan. 27, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2016

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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 19, 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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