THUS SAITH THE LORD by Richard E. Rubenstein


The Revolutionary Moral Vision of Isaiah and Jeremiah
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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. 13th, 2006
ISBN: 0-15-101219-9
Page count: 272pp
Publisher: Harcourt
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1st, 2006


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