A well-researched and stirring account of how various communities, scholars and artists interpret the willingness to...

BUT WHERE IS THE LAMB?

IMAGINING THE STORY OF ABRAHAM AND ISAAC

Goodman (History and Nonfiction Writing/Rutgers Univ.; Blackout, 2003, etc.) recounts the body of knowledge gleaned from his obsession with the biblical story of the Binding of Isaac (the Akedah).

Rather than focusing solely on the story in Genesis, the author progresses well beyond biblical criticism to engage the myriad of interpretations about the Akedah that appear in Jewish, Christian and Islamic exegetical literature. In each tradition, Goodman is struck by certain interpretive peculiarities. For example, in Judaism, he comes across rabbinic accounts where Isaac is, in fact, sacrificed. In Christianity, the author takes issue with how the actual sacrifice of Jesus supersedes the near-sacrifice of Isaac and is used to invalidate central tenets of Judaism through a technique that he calls “supersessionism.” Goodman spends much less time with the Islamic interpretive history, but he mentions the ambiguity surrounding which son of Abraham’s was intended for sacrifice and the implicit argument for the favored status of Ishmael (and his ancestors) when many Islamic accounts mention him as the intended victim. This is also an interesting study on the ways in which the Akedah has appeared in works of art and poetry, and the author considers how Jewish communities used the sacrifice story to contextualize themselves during periods of intense persecution. Although the book may be difficult for a complete neophyte to the world of comparative religion, it is a fast-moving account of a wide-ranging and deeply penetrating religious topic, and Goodman closes with an important reminder on how the subject of sacrifice for religious obedience is relevant to the contemporary issue of religious extremism.

A well-researched and stirring account of how various communities, scholars and artists interpret the willingness to sacrifice life for God.

Pub Date: Sept. 10, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-8052-4253-9

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Schocken

Review Posted Online: June 30, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2013

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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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THE MYTH OF SISYPHUS

AND OTHER ESSAYS

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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