"An essential exploration of a rich literary tradition from the Bible to modern times, by a "rare literary authority" (New York Times Book Review). Jews have long embraced their identity as "the people of the book." But outside of the Bible, much of the Jewish literary tradition remains little known. The People and the Books shows how central questions and themes of our history and culture are reflected in the Jewish literary canon: the nature of God, the right way to understand the Bible, the relationship of the Jews to their Promised Land, and the challenges of living as a minority in Diaspora. Adam Kirsch explores eighteen classic texts including the biblical books of Deuteronomy and Esther, the philosophy of Maimonides, the autobiography of the medieval businesswoman Gluckel of Hameln, and the Zionist manifestos of Theodor Herzl. From the Jews of ancient Rome to the mystical devotees of Hasidism in Eastern Europe, The People and the Books brings the treasures of Jewish literature to life and offers new ways to think about their enduring power and influence"-- Provided by publisher.
Preface: The people and the books: A timeline The blessing and the curse: The Book of Deuteronomy In the kingdom of chance: The Book of Esther Reading against the grain: The exposition of the laws by Philo of Alexandria Choosing life: The Jewish War by Flavius Josephus Building fences: Pirkei Avot The scandal of chosenness: The itinerary of Benjamin of Tudela and the Kuzari by Yehuda Halevi Thinking toward God: The Guide of the Perplexed by Moses Maimonides The secret life of God: The Zohar Daughters of Zion: The Tsenerene and the memoirs of Glückel of Hameln Heresy and freedom: Theological-political treatise by Baruch Spinoza Between two worlds: The autobiography of Solomon Maimon and Jerusalem by Moses Mendelssohn Brokenness and redemption: The tales of Nachman of Bratslav If you will it: The Jewish State and old new land by Theodor Herzl On the brink: Tevye the Dairyman by Sholem Aleichem.