The idea of a single devine being – God, Yahweh, Allah – has existed for over 4,000 years. But the history of God is also the history of human struggle. While Judaism, Islam and Christianity proclaim the goodness of God, organised religion has too often been the catalyst for violence and ineradicable prejudice.
In this fascinating, extensive and original account of the evolution of belief, Karen Armstrong examines Western society’s unerring fidelity to this idea of One God and the many conflicting convictions it engenders. A controversial, extraordinary story of worship and war, A History of God confronts the most fundamental fact – or fiction – of our lives.
Normon Solomon’s succinct book is an ideal introduction to Judaism as a religion and way of life. Demonstrating the diverse nature and ethnic origin of Jewish people, Solomon explores how the religion has developed in the 2,000 years since the days of the Bible.
This Very Short Introduction starts by outlining the basics of practical Judaism, including: festivals, prayers, customs, and various sects – and goes on to consider how Judaism has responded to, and dealt with, a number of key issues and debates, including the impact of the Holocaust and the establishment of the State of Israel. In this new edition, Solomon considers issues of contemporary Judaism in the 21st century, incorporating new material on the relationship between the Muslim faith and Judaism, the rise of Zohar and Kabala, and considers how the faith deals with issues such as homosexuality and gay marriage.
ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.
***2015 National Jewish Book Award Winner***
In this powerful and timely book, one of the most admired and authoritative religious leaders of our time tackles the phenomenon of religious extremism and violence committed in the name of God. If religion is perceived as being part of the problem, Rabbi Sacks argues, then it must also form part of the solution. When religion becomes a zero-sum conceit—that is, my religion is the only right path to God, therefore your religion is by definition wrong—and individuals are motivated by what Rabbi Sacks calls “altruistic evil,” violence between peoples of different beliefs appears to be the only natural outcome.
But through an exploration of the roots of violence and its relationship to religion, and employing groundbreaking biblical analysis and interpretation, Rabbi Sacks shows that religiously inspired violence has as its source misreadings of biblical texts at the heart of all three Abrahamic faiths. By looking anew at the book of Genesis, with its foundational stories of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, Rabbi Sacks offers a radical rereading of many of the Bible’s seminal stories of sibling rivalry: Cain and Abel, Isaac and Ishmael, Jacob and Esau, Joseph and his brothers, Rachel and Leah.
“Abraham himself,” writes Rabbi Sacks, “sought to be a blessing to others regardless of their faith. That idea, ignored for many of the intervening centuries, remains the simplest definition of Abrahamic faith. It is not our task to conquer or convert the world or enforce uniformity of belief. It is our task to be a blessing to the world. The use of religion for political ends is not righteousness but idolatry . . . To invoke God to justify violence against the innocent is not an act of sanctity but of sacrilege.” Here is an eloquent call for people of goodwill from all faiths and none to stand together, confront the religious extremism that threatens to destroy us, and declare: Not in God’s Name.
From the Hardcover edition.
How do we articulate a religious vision that embraces evolution and human authorship of Scripture? Drawing on the Jewish mystical traditions of Kabbalah and Hasidism, path-breaking Jewish scholar Arthur Green argues that a neomystical perspective can help us to reframe these realities, so they may yet be viewed as dwelling places of the sacred. In doing so, he rethinks such concepts as God, the origins and meaning of existence, human nature, and revelation to construct a new Judaism for the twenty-first century.
A spiritual crisis sent Orthodox rabbi Gershon Winkler to remote regions of the Southwest, where he studied with Native American healers. From them he began to recover the long-lost wisdom of what he calls “Aboriginal Judaism”: the religion’s tribal roots. This book tracks his personal journey and draws from a dazzling mix of sources to detail the surprising connections between two seemingly unrelated religions.
“According to the Hebrew Bible, God made the world with words. God just spoke and the world became reality. (The Aramaic for ‘I create as I speak’ is avara k’davara, or in magician s language, abracadabra.) … This does not protect words from the numbing effects of overuse in any religious tradition…. We need to dust off the words, shake away the accretions, wonder again about what they originally might have meant and enable ourselves to live in the word.” from the Introduction
With creativity and poetry (and occasional heresy) Kushner dusts off thirty classical Hebrew words, shakes them free of the effects of generations of overuse, “re-translates” them and liberates their ancient holy power. The result is a contemporary spiritual guide for your personal religious life.
According to the Hebrew Bible, God made the world with words. God just spoke and the world came into being. Words therefore are not merely sounds signifying something else; they are instruments of creation, primary reality itself. They need only to be read, spoken and interpreted. And to know them is to know reality itself.
Kushner has designed the book himself, seamlessly blending graphics and content. In doing so he evokes the aesthetics of an ancient manuscript and a vision of our power to shape the future.
Each finely crafted chapter begins with a Hebrew word and Kushner s provocative English translation. At the bottom of the page is a transliteration of the Hebrew along with its more customary English rendering. In addition to his own intriguing definition, he includes a biblical citation anchoring the word, along with a more recent text showing the word s evolution. Finally, we are offered a personal, meditative exercise designed to enable you to live in the word. “
What is God anyway?
First published in 1986, Finding God contained essays on significant Jewish thinkers, attempting to answer the questions looming above us all: What is God? Is there more than one way to perceive of God? How can we know God? What does God “want” from us? How does God relate to me?
As in the earlier edition of Finding God, the approaches to God found in biblical texts and in the prayerbook are explored, as are those of the classical and medieval rabbis. This latest edition of Finding God includes two new essays on the distinct theologies of Abraham Joshua Heschel and Alvin Reines, as well as a chapter on newer approaches, including those of Emil Fackenheim, Harold Schulweis, Marcia Falk, Lawrence Kushner, and Judith Plaskow. There is no one right way to view God for Jews, but with the help of this book readers will be better able to understand the multiple ways that Jews have continued to wrestle with the idea of God throughout history.
— Revised edition
— Three new chapters
— A multiplicity of distinctively Jewish theological perspectives
— Ideal for high school, adult education courses, and Introduction to Judaism
— Free discussion guide available at www.uahcpress.com