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The Gifts Of The Jews

How a Tribe of Desert Nomads Changed the Way Everyone Thinks and Feels
Paperback Book
August, 1999
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Banyen's Description: 

In the Gifts of the Jews, Thomas Cahill, author of the bestselling How the Irish Saved Civilization, takes readers on a second amazing journey into the past, looking at history with the rigor of a scholar while explaining it simply, with the skill of a gifted teacher. He reveals the critical change that made Western civilization possible. It was born, Cahill contends, the moment Abraham heard the Voice of God speaking the words “Go forth.” Thereafter, the Jews developed a new vision of their destiny. This vision was a major turning point in the history of humanity. Up until that point, all ancient civilizations perceived life as an endlessly spinning wheel of birth and death whose course never altered. Suddenly, the Jewish people began to see time differently, as a narrative, whose triumphant conclusion would come in the future. From this insight came a new concept of men and women as individuals with unique destinies, a hopeful belief in progress, and a sense that tomorrow could be better than today.

Cahill introduces readers to the origins of monotheism with compelling stories, insights and humor. His book maps the path of Western history, and traces our cultural heritage back to the religious ideas and feelings of ancient Israel, bringing us to the realization that many of our most treasured values are, indeed, the gifts of the Jews.

“He exalts his ancient subjects; their hearts, minds, and experiences resonate in his compelling contemporary narrative.” —Chicago Tribune

Publisher’s Description: 

The author of the runaway bestseller How the Irish Saved Civilization has done it again. In The Gifts of the Jews Thomas Cahill takes us on another enchanting journey into history, once again recreating a time when the actions of a small band of people had repercussions that are still felt today.

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.

Full of compelling stories, insights and humor, The Gifts of the Jews is an irresistible exploration of history as fascinating and fun as How the Irish Saved Civilization.

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