An aimless exploration of Biblical prophecy.



Re-reading of the great Biblical prophets, to little avail.

The tumult surrounding 9/11 caused Rubenstein (Conflict Resolution and Public Affairs/George Mason Univ.) to examine once more some of the major prophets of the Bible, namely Isaiah (and “Second Isaiah”), Jeremiah, Elijah and Elisha. By reading the relevant scriptures while studying the geo-political context in which they were set, he hoped to come away with fresh insights into the world’s present conflicts. His final analysis, however, is brief and anti-climactic. Rubenstein presents the stories of these prophets in approachable language, interspersing detailed historical notes with selected scriptural quotations. In tracing the prophetic tradition from Elijah’s struggle against the worshippers of Baal to Jeremiah’s laments during the exile in Babylon, he draws forth an important message for the ages: The entire world, not merely one people, are under the dominion and care of God, and that is the starting point from which understanding can grow. After a brief discussion of Jesus as a continuation of the prophetic tradition, the author seems ready at last to summarize his findings and present a meaningful message for the present day. The reader finds, though, that only a handful of pages are devoted to the sweeping topic of what the ancient prophets have to say to us in our current circumstances. His conclusion is sparse and hurried, and the last few pages may not be enough to convince the reader that today’s events require a return to the lessons of the prophets at all. And there are other issues: What about the many other Biblical prophets who are either not mentioned or barely mentioned in this work? For a book written from a Jewish perspective, the brief discussion of Jesus needs more treatment to have a legitimate place. And what is God’s role? Rubenstein exudes historical-critical skepticism, yet invites us to listen to the prophets’ words anyway. What does he really want us to believe?

An aimless exploration of Biblical prophecy.

Pub Date: Nov. 13, 2006

ISBN: 0-15-101219-9

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 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 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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