Whether you are thinking about studying the Bible for the first time or you’re simply curious about its history and contents, you will find everything you need in Essential Torah. George Robinson, author of the acclaimed Essential Judaism, begins by recounting the various theories of the origins of the Torah and goes on to explain its importance as the core element in Jewish belief and practice. He discusses the basics of Jewish theology and Jewish history as they are derived from the Torah, and he outlines how the Dead Sea Scrolls and other archaeological discoveries have enhanced our understanding of the Bible. He introduces us to the vast literature of biblical commentary, chronicles the evolution of the Torah’s place in the synagogue service, offers an illuminating discussion of women and the Bible, and provides a study guide as a companion for individual or group Bible study. In the book’s centerpiece, Robinson summarizes all fifty-four portions that make up the Torah and gives us a brilliant distillation of two thousand years of biblical commentaries–from the rabbis of the Mishnah and the Talmud to medieval commentators such as Rashi, Maimonides, and ibn Ezra to contemporary scholars such as Nahum Sarna, Nechama Leibowitz, Robert Alter, and Everett Fox.
This extraordinary volume–which includes a listing of the Torah reading cycles, a Bible time line, glossaries of terms and biblical commentators, and a bibliography–will stand as the essential sourcebook on the Torah for years to come.
When New York film critic Robinson began attending synagogue something he had not done since his adolescence he found himself confused. His vain search for a printed guide led him to write Essential Judaism, a well-received primer on Jewish customs, rituals, history and worship. The success of that one-volume handbook to Jewish practice in turn led Robinson to produce this manual on the Torah and what Jews believe. Writing in colloquial and accessible English, Robinson effectively, and sometimes entertainingly, shows why the five books of Moses constitute the basis for Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Drawing on a dazzling array of sources, he provides an overview of the Torah, tackles the question of who wrote it, explores the commentaries, confronts the suppression of women's voices and bravely tackles what Bible scholars have labeled "troubling texts." Despite his valiant and informative effort, Robinson joins the ranks of his many predecessors in failing to find a satisfactory resolution to some of these disturbing stories. The second half of the book contains summaries of the 54 Torah portions, along with Robinson's useful commentaries. This book is a stellar achievement in which a gifted and diligent author guides readers of all faiths to a source book for religious belief and behavior.