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The Genesis of Ethics [Paperback]

By Burton L. Visotzky (Author)
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Item Number 155203  
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Item description for The Genesis of Ethics by Burton L. Visotzky...

This close study of the moral dilemmas of the narratives of Genesis and their parallels in modern ethical issues will appeal to the viewers of the highly successful PBS series with Bill Moyers, "Genesis: A Living Conversation", and to the broad audience that has made bestsellers of books such as"The Book of Virtues" and "The Moral Compass".

Publishers Description
Burton L. Visotzky, one of America's most respected scholars of religion, guides readers through a close reading of the narratives of the Book of Genesis, exposing their brutal power and revealing how their moral dilemmas apply to ethical issues we face in our lives today.
Rabbi Visotzky has led highly regarded seminars, attended by novelists, poets, editors, filmmakers and critics, Fortune 500 CEOs, bankers, and attorneys. He also was a major participant in Bill Moyers's PBS Genesis series. His reading of Genesis opens the door to moral development for all readers--Christians, Jews, Muslims, and secularists.
As Burton Visotzky says, the Book of Genesis seems to be, at least on first reading, "an ugly little soap opera about a dysfunctional family . . . a story about rape, incest, murder, deception, brute force, sex, and blood lust. But these stories reveal much about human dilemmas and ethical problems that mirror our own lives. By delving into the lives of Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, and Esau and holding up these characters of Scripture to the light of critical inquiry, Burton Visotzky reveals much that is fresh and useful about ethics and morality.
"He is a rabbi who is earthy, playful, and full of insight, who refuses to draw a veil over the dark side of the Bible or of our own contemporary experience. "
--Thomas Cahill, author of How the Irish Saved Civilization
" Visotzky] has a wonderfully earthy, human touch to his commentary, a perspective that can be especially refreshing for Christians who have seen the 'Old Testament' sanitized or ignored by their own tradition."
--San Francisco Chronicle
"Thrilling original insights . . . a new way to see and feel these old, old sentences. "
--The New York Times Magazine
"Visotzky delights in turning the gem of each story so that its facets, especially the darkest ones, gleam out at us. . . . The Genesis of Ethics is a unique contribution to Bible discussion. . . . One can only applaud and thank him. "
--Naomi Rosen, Congress Monthly

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Item Specifications...

Studio: Three Rivers Press
Pages   672
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 8.66" Width: 5.5" Height: 0.56"
Weight:   0.66 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   May 9, 2001
Publisher   Three Rivers Press
ISBN  0609801678  
ISBN13  9780609801673  

Availability  116 units.
Availability accurate as of Oct 23, 2016 09:43.
Usually ships within one to two business days from La Vergne, TN.
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More About Burton L. Visotzky

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! BURTON L. VISOTZKY is Appleman Professor of Midrash and Interreligious Studies at the Jewish Theological Seminary. He worked with Bill Moyers and more recently with Christiane Amanpour on Back to the Beginning, aired annually at Christmas time. The author of many books, including Sage Tales: Wisdom and Wonder from the Rabbis of the Talmud, he has been named to The Forward 50 and repeatedly to the Newsweek/Daily Beast list of the The 50 Most Influential Jews in America. He lives in Manhattan."

Burton L. Visotzky currently resides in New York. Burton L. Visotzky was born in 1951.

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Product Categories

1Books > Special Features > Substores > jp-unknown1
2Books > Subjects > History
3Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Bible & Other Sacred Texts > Bible > Old Testament
4Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Christian Living > General
5Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Christian Living
6Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Reference > General
7Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Reference > Old Testament > Old Testament
9Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Religious Studies > Ethics

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Reviews - What do customers think about The Genesis of Ethics?

Thinking about Abraham  Apr 11, 2004
Rabbi Visotzky employs a tension between derash (tje implicit text and exegeses in light of the current community) and peshat (the explicit simple story in its context). Throughout the book he tries to make you have compassion for the characters. He states, "it is the whole point of moral education to be able to imagine being in another's position" (and he references John Rawls: A theory of Justice). For example, in the story of Abraham and Sarah, he tries to imagine Hagar's view not as a vessel, but as a prophet and mother of a nation. He using his own life experiences, even his divorce, to bring home the point that no one really understands what is happening in another's life. This is not your Sunday school teacher telling you what the stories mean, but rather insight into the process of discussion and moral development (with reference to Lawrence Kohlberg's moral development levels.

Much of the book focuses on Abraham and Sarah. Perhaps the story of Abraham's sacrifice of Isaac, begs the problem of ethical interpretation of God's action, and he references Kierkegaard's teleological suspension of the ethical. These few chapters in Genesis offer many ethical dilemmas, and this book would probably be best in a discussion group. Readers of this would also like Bill Moyer's video discussion "Genesis: A living conversation" (Visotzky is in that as well) as well as Moyer's book "Talking about Genesis".

Updating Our Family Album  Jan 22, 2001
Rabbi Visotzky brings light to the events of Abraham's family in a way that few commentators have really explored. His insight into midrash and Tanach blends this ancient world with his insight of the dynamics of today's family. He creates refreshing and believable discussions of some of the most controversial topics and applies their relevance to us today. I personally feel much more comfortable and secure in the classroom now that I have been able to view "our family" from his perspective. I look forward to reading many more of his titles.
New Twist on an Old Favorite  Aug 23, 2000
Burton Visotzky, in his down-to-earth voice, brings a new way of reading the heavenly work. He looks critically at Genesis 25-50 and in doing so opens it up to less experienced readers as well as people very familiar with the Bible. While some of his interpretations are "out-there" and others even mildly offensive to traditional readings, all are interesting and inspire as well as encourage original thinking. The Hebrew Bible may be the most read work in Western Civilization but Visotzky's book opens the reader's minds to new ways of thinking and new possibilities as to what is really there and how to relate that to contemporary life.
Is this Genesis or the life of rabbi Visotzky.  Jan 6, 2000
Using the "tawdry little soap opera" school of criticism, this rabbi proceeds to reduce all the ancient matriarchs and patriarchs to charictatures and harpies. His "personal" characterizations are laughable, his name-dropping is irritating, and his interpretations are more about his divorce than about the actual characters that inhabit the first book of Torah.

It's not that his characterizations are offbase, but they are just tedious. Besides that does the reader really have to know that this unmarried "rabbi" is trying to decide between vasectomies and condoms for birth control methods?

Great if you are unfamiliar with the book of Genesis and you want something to make you look at the Bible in an un-Sunday school fashion. Awful if you are looking for anything in the way of serious scholarship.


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