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The Gifts of the Jews: How a Tribe of Desert…
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The Gifts of the Jews: How a Tribe of Desert Nomads Changed the Way… (original 1998; edition 1999)

by Thomas Cahill

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2,098254,508 (3.79)17
Member:jgbell
Title:The Gifts of the Jews: How a Tribe of Desert Nomads Changed the Way Everyone Thinks and Feels (Hinges of History)
Authors:Thomas Cahill
Info:Anchor (1999), Paperback
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The Gifts Of The Jews: How A Tribe Of Desert Nomads Changed The Way Everyone Thinks And Feels by Thomas Cahill (1998)

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Showing 1-5 of 25 (next | show all)
Success is inter-generational...
  Kevin.Bokay | Aug 5, 2018 |
I so enjoyed Cahill's "How The Irish Saved Civilization" that I looked forward to "The Gifts of the Jews" with great anticipation. However, this book falls short. In "Irish," Cahill claimed that Irish monks were responsible for the preservation of written language during the Dark Ages; in "Jews," he claims that ancient Israelites were the first to think of themselves as individuals and to see the world not as cyclical, but as processive. I'm not sure that theory really holds up. Cahill makes some assertions that he doesn't support with facts, and while this is interesting light reading, it's not so much a history as an essay. ( )
  mrsmig | Jan 19, 2018 |
Account of the contributions to civilization by the Jews ( )
  JackSweeney | Jan 10, 2017 |
diakonia book, the gifts is a bit of a stretch, but it was interesting to see how the Bible and the Jewish history evolved from Cahill's perspective. Not as contentious a book in diakonia discussion as some others ( )
  nancynova | Nov 12, 2016 |
The moment, or hinge, in history that a changed occurred to allow Western civilization possible is the primary focus of Thomas Cahill’s The Gifts of the Jews. Over the course of less than 304 pages and the scope of two millennia of Jewish history from its birth with Abraham to their return from exile, Cahill examines the evolving birth of a new worldview that was entirely different from what had been thought before.

The focus of Cahill’s book is the beginning of Western civilization, which to him is a change in mindset on how to view the world and the reason was the Jews. Before getting to Abraham however, Cahill looked to what had come before, the “cyclical” worldview and culture of Sumer in which he went out of. With this in mind, Cahill emphasizes how big a step Abraham’s journey at God’s direction was. Then throughout the course of the book, Cahill examines step-by-step the development of the “processive” worldview that the Jews were exhibiting for the first time from successive revelations of God and the development of individuality in language and philosophy, but most importantly the role of justice in society.

Cahill’s argument is very compelling, as was his discussions on the Epic of Gilgamesh and the various Biblical individuals and their actions. Yet the problem I have with this book is with some of Cahill’s interpretation and subsequent logical construction of his evidence whether through scripture or an analysis of non-Biblical sources to weave his thesis. For example some of the evidence Cahill uses to date the Exodus is erroneous by misinterpretation of both Biblical and non-Biblical sources, yet that is only of several examples I could have given.

Yet while Cahill’s interpretations aren’t the best part of this book, his argument that the Jews brought forth a new worldview that would lead to Western civilization is compelling. Because of that, The Gifts of the Jews is worth a close read as it describes the first and most significant hinge of historical change. ( )
  mattries37315 | Sep 21, 2016 |
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To Kristin. How but in custom and in ceremony Are innocence and beauty born? Ceremony's a name for the rich horn, And custom for the spreading laurel tree.
The Elster - DeFlaun Family
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The Jews started it all--and by 'it' I mean so many of the things we care about, the underlying values that make all of us, Jew and gentile, believer and atheist, tick.
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The Sabbath is surely one of the simplest and sanest recommendations any god has ever made; and those who live without such septimanal punctuation are emptier and less resourceful.
But this gift of the Commandments allows us to live in the present, in the here and now. What I have done in the past is past mending; what I will do in the future is a worry not worth the candle, for there is no way I can know what will happen next. But in this moment--and only in this moment--I am in control.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0385482493, Paperback)

Thomas Cahill, author of the bestselling How the Irish Saved Civilization, continues his Hinges of History series with The Gifts of the Jews, a light-handed, popular account of ancient Jewish culture, the culture of the Bible. The book is written from a decidedly modern point of view. Cahill notes, for instance, that Abraham moved the Jews from Ur to the land of Canaan "to improve their prospects," and that the leering inhabitants of Sodom surrounded Lot's lodging "like the ghouls in Night of the Living Dead." The Gifts of the Jews nonetheless encourages us to see the Old Testament through ancient eyes--to see its characters not as our contemporaries but as those of Gilgamesh and Amenhotep. Cahill also lingers on often-overlooked books of the Bible, such as Ruth, to discuss changes in ancient sensibility. The result is a fine, speculative, eminently readable work of history.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:19:59 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

The Gifts of the Jews reveals the critical change that made western civilization possible. Within the matrix of ancient religions and philosophies, life was seen as part of an endless cycle of birth and death; time was like a wheel, spinning ceaselessly. Yet somehow, the ancient Jews began to see time differently. For them, time had a beginning and an end; it was a narrative, whose triumphant conclusion would come in the future. From this insight came a new conception of men and women as individuals with unique destinies--a conception that would inform the Declaration of Independence--and our hopeful belief in progress and the sense that tomorrow can be better than today. As Thomas Cahill narrates this momentous shift, he also explains the real significance of such Biblical figures as Abraham and Sarah, Moses and the Pharaoh, Joshua, Isaiah, and Jeremiah.… (more)

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