Books and Reviews at Greenberry House

Like most booksellers, reading is a large part of my life here at Greenberry House. I have a special old chair, so worn that it sags, where I love to curl up with a good book. Old favorites, exciting new writers, spiritual or challenging, fiction or fact; all pass through my hands and many are worthy of comment. I plan an occasional mention here of a recent book I've read, either to recommend or to warn!

Monday, January 01, 2007

Surpassing Wonder

Surpassing Wonder by Donald Harman Akenson, Harcourt Brace & Co., 1998

I'm not a Biblical scholar or professional historian, so I'm not sure that I'm a good judge of the worth of a book like this, which is somewhat geared toward the "educated amateur" but deals with historical methods and a tremendous quantity of literature. The subject of the book is the processes that led up to the creation of the main texts of Christianity and Judaism, from the Hebrew Bible up to the Talmuds.

One interesting point that he makes is that the thought and writings of Judaism have had a much stronger impact on the development of Western Civilization than is normally credited. Since I've always been taught that classical Greece was the major influence on the development of modern thought, this is a viewpoint that I hadn't considered, but shall in further reading. Much of Akenson's work urges further research on the part of the reader as well as critical analysis of current scholarship, even his own work!

The writer is deeply respectful of his subject, occasionally witty without being sarcastic and mindful of the fact that there are more questions than answers about some historical periods that he is writing about. Much of his theme revolves around the destruction of the Temple and how that event was a major factor in the development of the Scriptures and commentary.

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