The Story of the Jews: A 4,000 Year Adventure - Stan Mack
Again, a book that is part of my learning more about Judaism in the last two weeks than I have in several years. It is told in the style of those pen-and-ink cartoon instruction books that they used to make about every topic imaginable: narration over simple drawings accompanied by the occasional bit of dialogue. Since it is Stan Mack's attempt to better understand his own forgotten heritage, it is very reader-friendly for neophytes like myself. Starting with YHWH's appearance to Abram, this book traces the broad arcs of Israel's story all the way up to the 1990's. Naturally it is somewhat simplistic (somehow the Jews come off looking more industrious, honest, and good-natured than absolutely everyone else they encounter - not that Jews aren't, just that the book doesn't really allow for anyone else to be quite as upstanding), and I was plenty disappointed with the way Christians especially are portrayed. Having given it some thought, of course, I realize that if Mr. Mack was studying the events in the life of Israel these last 2,000 years, he is probably very justified in having a low opinion of Christians. In particular, he treats the origins of the Christian church as nothing more than an illegitimate offshoot of Judaism: the apostle Paul is pictured carrying a large picket sign reading, "FREE MONOTHEISM! GAIN WITHOUT PAIN!", and the Church founders are described as declaring the Jewish Law "irrelevant." While I disagree with his portrayal, I could suddenly see where it was coming from. Here were the Jews, spending all this time and effort trying to follow 613 laws as closely as possible so that they could draw closer to God. Then along come the Christians, claiming that anyone, anyone, could have even better access to this same God without any effort whatsoever. So yeah, I can kind of see that being a little irritating.

Of course, treatment of Christianity is a very very small portion of this book, and I only fixate on it because, like I said, Judeo-Christian relations have been on my mind a lot recently. As a whole, it's a great introduction to Jewish history and , if nothing else, helps you understand terms you might hear batted around.

Fed to robyn's brain | March 07, 2003