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Advance praise for The Torah: A Beginner's Guide:
“Lohr and Kaminsky have written an accessible, clear, and balanced introduction to the significance and meaning of the Torah. The Torah has been compared to a light and their book succeeds in enlightening readers about a sacred text shared by Jews and Christians. I highly recommend ‘The Torah: a Beginners Guide’. It provides an invaluable introduction to a key text in the study of religion.”
Edward Kessler MBE - Founding Director of the Woolf Institute of Abrahamic Faiths, University of Cambridge and author of What Do Jews Believe?
“Lohr and Kaminsky have written an introduction to the Torah that is distinctive in several respects. It highlights the fact that the Torah is a religious text, and illustrates the ways in which it has been used in Jewish and Christian tradition, with a nod also to Islam. It also underlines that the interpretation of any text is influenced to a great degree by the assumptions with which we approach it. This is a fine example of an ecumenical scholarship, designed to promote mutual understanding between Jews and Christians. It is written in an accessible style, which should make it ideal for undergraduates and lay study groups.”
John J. Collins - Holmes Professor of Old Testament at Yale University and author of Introduction to the Hebrew Bible
“The Torah: A Beginners Guide by Joel Lohr, a committed Christian, and Joel Kaminsky, a committed Jew, is an excellent introduction to the Pentateuch. While appreciative of modern secular biblical scholarship, the main strength of the book is that it demonstrates how Christians and Jews can read Scripture together almost as fruitfully as they can read it within their respective faith communities.”
David Novak - J. Richard and Dorothy Shiff Chair of Jewish Studies, University of Toronto
“Lohr and Kaminsky have produced a well-conceived and well-written “Beginner’s Guide” to the Torah. In a unique and fascinating venture, they interweave Jewish and Christian perspectives on various themes and texts in a clear and careful fashion. A balanced assessment of issues in current pentateuchal scholarship pervades the volume and will no doubt launch further reflection on the part of both lay readers and biblical scholars.”
Terence E. Fretheim - Elva B. Lovell Professor of Old Testament at Luther Seminary in St. Paul, Minnesota, and author of The Pentateuch
“I am glad to welcome and commend this study guide for beginners. The authors have been able to accomplish two special things by their interpretive agility. On the one hand, they are honest critically about the Torah while at the same time affirming its theological authority for communities of faith. On the other hand, they have been able to hold together in tension the on-going interpretive practices of Judaism and Christianity, thus showing how the Torah continues to be a generative force for both interpretive communities. The book will be a useful pedagogical resource.”
Walter Brueggemann - William Marcellus McPheeters Professor of Old Testament Emeritus at Columbia Theological Seminary and author of The Prophetic Imagination
“This serene exposition of the first five books of Jewish and Christian Scripture is most welcome.”
Matthew Levering – Professor of Theology at Dayton University and author of Jewish-Christian Dialogue and the Life of Wisdom
“Clear yet not simplistic, sparing of detail yet opening a window into the vast world of Torah study for both Jews and Christians – this makes for a very welcome and highly useful book.”
Ellen F. Davis – Amos Ragan Kearns Professor of Bible and Practical Theology at Duke University Divinity School, North Carolina and author of Getting Involved with God
That the People of Israel are especially chosen by God is an idea affirmed by both early Christians and the ancient rabbis. However, the notion that God would favor one person or group over another tends to be viewed as highly problematic in today's democratic and pluralistic society. Thus, the Bible's affirmation of Israel's divine election is often ignored or even repudiated by contemporary Christians and Jews. In his new book, Joel S. Kaminsky provides a clear and nuanced understanding of what the Bible really says about God's choosing. Beginning with the stories of family rivalry in Genesis (Cain and Abel; Isaac and Ishmael; Jacob and Esau; Joseph and his brothers), Kaminsky shows how God chooses, how humans participate, and what we know from the Bible about God's intentions. The book maps out the Hebrew Bible's theology of election by asking about the fates of those whom God chooses to favor, those whom God rejects, and those who are neither favored nor rejected. A close reading of the biblical text uncovers that the idea of election is at the heart of the Hebrew Bible and reveals profound insights about God, Israel, and God's larger plan for the world. Kaminsky goes on to show how both the New Testament authors and the classical rabbis adopted the Hebrew Bible's view of divine election in unique but related ways. Understanding how Jews and Christians define themselves as God's special people in turn opens up new avenues of Jewish-Christian dialogue.
Advance praise for Yet I Loved Jacob
"In recent decades the various advances reached in the dialogue between Jews and Christians have often been compromised by the inability to appreciate the biblical grounding of the doctrine of election. This is due, in part, to the lack of interest modern biblical scholars have shown for the subject. This learned, ground-breaking book fills this urgent lacuna and as a result is certain to become an indispensable aide for those Jewish and Christian thinkers committed to interreligious dialogue." ------Gary A. Anderson, Professor of Hebrew Bible/Old Testament, Department of Theology, University of Notre Dame
"This marvelous book is the best presentation there is of the most misunderstood—and most maligned—teaching in the Hebrew Bible, the chosenness of Israel. It is also one of the best works of biblical theology to come out in recent years. In clear prose, unencumbered by technical jargon yet informed by wide learning and careful thinking, Professor Kaminsky analyzes this exceedingly subtle and easily misunderstood topic and uncovers major aspects of the Hebrew Bible that will surprise and enrich scholars and laypersons, Jewish, Christian, and secular alike. I recommend it highly!" -----Jon D. Levenson, Albert A. List Professor of Jewish Studies, Harvard University
"Election is a powerful biblical theme that has played a significant role in theological reflection through the centuries. Indeed, many a religious controversy has been stirred up around this issue. In Hebrew Bible studies, however, election has been too often assumed and too little explored. So Joel Kaminsky’s insightful and careful study is welcome indeed. Especially to be commended are his careful analysis of texts, his balanced assessment of the evidence, and his theological alertness. The clarity and accessibility of his presentation of this complex theme will enable scholars, pastors, and laypersons alike to profit from a close reading of his work."-----Terence E. Fretheim, Luther Seminary, St. Paul, Minnesota
See the full bibliography for Yet I Loved Jacob: Reclaiming the Biblical Concept of Election (Abingdon, 2007).
See 5 recent reviews of Yet I Loved Jacob: Reclaiming the Biblical Concept of Election and my response to them.
See Jon Levenson's essay, "Chosenness and Its Enemies," from Commentary (December 2008) in which he discusses my book at length.
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