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Biblical Literacy: The Most Important People, Events, and Ideas of the Hebrew Bible [Hardcover]

By Joseph Telushkin (Author)
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Item description for Biblical Literacy: The Most Important People, Events, and Ideas of the Hebrew Bible by Joseph Telushkin...

Noting a rise in traditional religious observances in America, a guide to the Hebrew Bible's narratives and laws offers insight into their most important ideas and teachings and provides an annotated listing of all 613 laws of the Torah. Reissue.

Publishers Description

As he did so brilliantly in his bestselling book, jewish literacy, Joseph Teluslikin once again mines a subject of, Jewish history and religion so richly that his book becomes an inspiring companion and a fundamental reference. In Biblical Lileracy, Telushkin turns his attention to the Hebrew Bible (also known as the Old Testament), the most iniluential series of books in human history. Along with the Ten Commandments, the Bible's most famous document, no piece of legislation ever enacted has influenced human behavior as much as the biblical injunction to "Love your neighbor as yourself." No political tract has motivated human beings in so many diverse societies to fight for political freedom as the Exodus story of God's liberation of the Israelite slaves--which shows that God intends that, ultimately, people be free.

The Bible's influence, however, has conveyed as much through its narratives as its laws. Its timeless and moving tales about the human condition and man's relationship to God have long shaped Jewish and Christian notions of morality, and continue to stir the conscience and imagination of believers and skeptics alike.

There is a universality in biblical stories:

The murder of Abel by his brother Cain is a profound tragedy of sibling jealousy and family love gone awry (see pages 11-14).

Abraham', s challenge to God to save the lives of the evil people of Sodom is a fierce drama of man in confrontation with God, suggesting the human right to contend with the Almighty when it is feared He is acting unjustly (see pages 32-34).

Jacob's, deception of his blind father, Isaac raises the timeless question: Do the ends justify the means when the fate of the world is at stake (see pages 46-55).

Encyclopedia in scope, but dynamic and original in its observations and organization, Biblical Lileracy makes available in one volume the Bible's timeless stories of love, deceit, and the human condition; its most important laws and ideas; and an annotated listing of all 613 laws of the Torah for both layman and professional, there is no other reference work or interpretation of the Bible quite like this Stunning volume.

Citations And Professional Reviews
Biblical Literacy: The Most Important People, Events, and Ideas of the Hebrew Bible by Joseph Telushkin has been reviewed by professional book reviewers and journalists at the following establishments -

  • Wilson Public Library Catalog - 12/31/2008 page 97
  • Library Journal - 07/01/1997 page 89
  • Booklist - 10/01/1997 page 290
  • Wilson Public Library Catalog - 01/01/1998 page 73
  • Wilson Public Library Catalog - 01/01/2004 page 73

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Item Specifications...

Studio: William Morrow
Pages   608
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 9.73" Width: 6.43" Height: 2.09"
Weight:   2.35 lbs.
Binding  Hardcover
Release Date   Nov 26, 2002
Publisher   William Morrow
Edition  New  
ISBN  0688142974  
ISBN13  9780688142971  
UPC  099455029957  

Availability  11 units.
Availability accurate as of Oct 17, 2017 10:06.
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More About Joseph Telushkin

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Joseph Telushkin is a spiritual leader and scholar. He is the author of fifteen books, including Jewish Literacy and The Book of Jewish Values, a senior associate of CLAL, a board member of the Jewish Book Council, and the rabbi of the Los Angeles-based Synagogue for the Performing Arts. He lives in New York City and lectures regularly throughout the United States.
Visit for more information and to download a study guide to key ethical issues raised in A Code of Jewish Ethics.

Joseph Telushkin currently resides in New York City New York, in the state of New York. Joseph Telushkin was born in 1948.

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Authors, A-Z > ( T ) > Telushkin, Joseph
2Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Bible & Other Sacred Texts > Bible > Old Testament
3Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Reference > Criticism & Interpretation > Old Testament
4Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Reference > General
5Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Reference > Old Testament > Old Testament
6Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Reference > Old Testament
8Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Judaism > General
9Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Judaism > Sacred Writings > Hebrew Bible (Old Testament) > Criticism & Interpretation
10Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Judaism > Sacred Writings > Hebrew Bible (Old Testament) > Study

Christian Product Categories
Books > Bible Study > Language Tools

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Reviews - What do customers think about Biblical Literacy: The Most Important People, Events, and Ideas of the Hebrew Bible?

The Good Book through very honest eyes  Sep 28, 2006
I've seen the Hebrew Bible explained by true believers of several kinds, or critics of various sorts. But never have I seen it examined with such open curiosity. With Rabbi Telushkin as a guide, I was struck as never before by the Bible's painful honesty. It faithfully records the pain of inhumanity and the cost of each moral victory. But I seem to need an unblinking guide like Telushkin to really expose this.

The book takes three passes through the Hebrew Bible. First Telushkin highlights people and events. Then he explores the development of values and ideas. Third he details the rise of Jewish law through the Torah. I want to give quotes from two of these sections.

In examining Genesis 22, Telushkin considers how Isaac and Sarah felt about Abraham's willingness to sacrifice his son:

"Does he [Isaac] have trouble trusting his father after this incident? Or trusting God?

And then there is Sarah. The woman has waited almost her entire life to have a child, and Isaac's birth was her supreme joy. Yet her name is not mentioned once in this chapter. How does she react when she hears what happened? Do Abraham and Isaac tell her, or do they make a pact to keep the incident secret?

Again, we do not know, although the late Rabbi Abraham Chen points out a peculiar, seldom noted detail in the text. When Abraham returns from his trip, the Bible notes that he stays in Beersheva. Yet the second verse in the next chapter (Genesis 23:2) records that Sahah died in Kiryat Arba, and that Abraham came there to mourn for her. Although the text never explicitly says so, the implication is that Abraham and Sarah were living apart when she died. If so, did Sarah move away from him when she heard what Abraham had almost done?" (p. 41)

Concerning the development of values in the Bible story, we have this concerning the problem of theft:

"... The Bible's primary concern, however, is with aiding the victim. The first demand it makes of a theif is that he return the stolen goods to the victim. In addition, the theif is to be punished with a hundred percent fine, payable to the victim, not the state (Exodus 22:3). ... It is evident that biblical law is primarily concerned not with punishment of the thief, but with gaining restitution for the victim." (p. 447-448)
More than a surevey, Telushkin provides invaluabe insights  Jul 24, 2006
This is the third Telushkin book I have read, and I am not disappointed. The book is not merely a summary of the key events in the Tanach. Telushkin breaks down the events into easily digestable nuggets. This approach allows Telushkin to provide suprising depth of anaylsis, drawing from both Talmudic and medieval commentaries, as well as more modern Rabbinic scholarship. Reading this book is a very enriching experience that inspires the reader to study further.
A must have in your Jewish library  Nov 29, 2005
If you are looking to know more about Judaism one of your best investments is to buy any book written by Rabbi Joseph Telushkin. Especially, "Jewish Literacy" and "Biblical Literacy" because both of these books have all the essential information about pretty much everything and they are great reference to have in your library once you are done reading them for the first time.

They are both easy to read with short chapters and you can read them front-to-back and back-to-front. Both books are great start up books for Judaism and they will make you crave for further reading as suggested in the chapters. They are both AWESOME guides to further study. Reading them you will know the essential on each subject and from there you can take your studies in any direction.

These books are addictive and once you start reading them you are going to be hooked! That is what happened to me. :-)

"Jewish Literacy" starts with an explanation of the Jewish texts and it covers topics chronologically from Genesis to current events. The chapters in "Biblical Literary" will go more in depth about the Torah and Tanach which is already covered, with less detail, in "Jewish Literacy".

Both of these books are the best introduction to Judaism books you can buy today.
A useful supplement but not a substitute for the real thing  Jun 12, 2005
This book contains summaries and explanations of the major Biblical stories. It describes the major ideas events and people of what the Christian world calls ' The Old Testament ' and the Jewish world calls " Tannach". It is done with great intelligence, insight and balanced wisdom.
But it is best used as supplement, as a tool for better understanding problematic passages and readings.
It can in no way compare to the Biblical text itself , and the effort at reading and understanding it.
This book is written in clear explicatory prose, and is filled with information.
"Tannach" itself is a poetic document in the deepest sense. It is one that reverberates with meanings , one which demands reading and rereading of to be understood.
If the reading of this particular text can be thought of as a kind of study, the reading of Tannach is study and much more than that.
Again if anyone believes that by reading this work they will understand and know the reading of Tannach, they are mistaken. This is a book of information and insight, a highly valuable one but it should be a supplement and not a substitute for the real thing.
A Masterpiece...  Oct 22, 2003
Ok.. So I am a little biased, being that I am Jewish, but I do believe that most would agree. This book presents the "important" aspects of the "Hebrew Bible" with Telushkin's use of excellent language. I have tried other Biblical interpretations from various Rabbis and have often found myself creeping into a steady decline to sleepy-land. But this book is an exception! I have read the author's other works and decided to give this one a try (despite the 700 page factor being a mild intimidation). This book ultimately has lead me to appreciate my Jewishness. Thanks Rabbi Telushkin!

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