I try and read a lot of books, though I don’t read nearly as much as I used to. While not all of the books are related to my religion studies, a good number are and I’d like to share them with you.
Abraham, by Bruce Feiler
Dorie gave me this book as a present and I’m very glad she did. The “biography” of Abraham presented here is very well done and elaborates greatly on the way the patriarch is seen by the three faiths that revere him (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam) and even how those viewpoints have changed over time. What I most enjoyed was the ways that the different faiths see Abraham as a father rather than as a patriarch. In Islam, for example, he tells of stories (in the Koran?) where Abraham visits Ishmael after he is cast out, but because he can’t visit properly he has to remain on his horse the entire time. (Are there even any horses in the Torah? I can’t recall any; it seemed mostly as if everyone walked places.) Another example story, from Judaism, suggests that Isaac was actually killed by Abraham and God brought him back to life after a few days, sort of as a proto-Jesus. In all, an outstanding read, even though it makes me mourn that all of the great Abraham sites are difficult to get in to modern Israel/Palestine.
Bible: The Story of the King James Version, by Gordon Campbell
I admit that I love the first half of this book much more than the second. The origins of the KJV, starting from the politics and difficulties of the first English bibles, to the challenges in putting together the final text, and then the numerous revisions which led to the standard version we have today are really what I am interested in and this book delivers on that in spades. After that, there’s a lot of discussion on how later movements used to work, the printing history, etc. The brief notes on how the Latter-Day Saints movement patterned their own works off of the speech patterns and text in the KJV, or how some protestant movements are adopting the text of the KJV (which version? ah… don’t ask that) as itself inspired by God are nice, but I have to admit I reread the first chapters instead of finishing the book.
And finally, Why the Jews Rejected Jesus, by David Klinghoffer
I haven’t finished this yet; Dorie just have it to me for Hanukkah. The first chapters though are excellent, if you can overlook the fact that the author is a little more disparaging to both Judaism and Christianity than I might like. What I am enjoying most is the great research the author has done on Judaism circa 27 AD which puts Jesus into context with his contemporaries. While I’ve heard some of that before, he puts it all together in a way that I find appealing. There’s a lot more minefields the author needs to wade through to do this topic justice and I’m looking forward to finishing it just to see if he makes it to the end without injury.