Johannesburg, South Africa | Member Since 2009
Prof. Ronald Hendel, is professor of Hebrew Bible and Jewish Studies at the University of California. He is another heavyweight academic contributing to the biography series "Lives of Great Religious Books" published by Princeton University Press.
Like John J Collins' "The Dead Sea Scrolls, A Biography" the book is divided into seven chapters: 1. 'The Genesis of Genesis'; 2. 'The Rise of the Figural Sense'; 3. 'Apocalyptic Secrets'; 4. 'Platonic Worlds'; 5. 'Between the Figure and the Real'; 6. 'Genesis and Science: From the Beginning to Fundamentalism'; 7. 'Modern Times' and an Afterword: 'Stories of Our Alley.'
Be forewarned that this book is not a commentary or a devotional. Hendel discusses the 'life' and what he calls 'the afterlife' of the book, i.e. he places the book and its origin in an historical context as far as possible and discusses how it was read and understood over the centuries.
He specifically focus on those parts of Genesis which had a great influence on how people perceived their own situations. The creation stories, the story of Noah and the blessings of Isaac are some focus points. I really enjoyed his explanation of prof. Arbunck (not sure of the spellings) literary analysis of Abraham who wanted to sacrifice his son Isaac.
He sees the history of interpreting Genesis as one of going from reading it literally to a figurative understanding of the text back to a literal understanding. He discusses the interpretative universe of the Septuagint; Philo, the Jewish philosopher from Alexandra and Paul and the gnostic writers in chapters 2 to 5, then he brings it back to the real, discussing how Martin Luther interpreted Genesis as well as Baruch Spinoza. He also discusses the interesting role it played in the abolition of slavery. He gives a thorough debunking of Fundamentalism by putting it in its historical context and showing that it has more in common with modernity than it wants to admit. He ends up with the great divide that the new insistence of reading Genesis literally has brought between the reader and the text. The reader has become a outsider to the world of the text, but can come to a new appreciation of it as literature. It is part of the stories of our alley (Western Civilisation) although it might not help us to fight against power mongers and dictators as it had in the past.
Mark Moseley started of much better with his reading of this book, than with John J Collins' "The Dead Sea Scrolls, A Biography" but towards the end his staccato breathing style made it difficult to listen. I actually had to rewind and re-listen when he pronounced certain German phrases to try to understand what he was saying. I suspect he doesn't know German. Fortunately these were limited. (Most of what I have said in the previous review about his interpretative reading still stands.)
I think this was a very difficult book to write. I think Prof. Hendel did a good job of it, but I wondered at times if he didn't try to catch too many fish with a too small net. Either the book should have been longer or the subject-matter more limited. There was also a very North American take on the interpretation of Genesis, ignoring much of the rest of the world, in other words, the book's audience seems to be Americans.
I suspect that listener's will either like the book or hate it, find in enlightening or maybe blasphemous, interesting or offensive. I disagreed to a certain extend with the afterword, but found much value in the ways that Genesis has been understood in the past. It gives an important overview of the influence of the first book of the Bible on the human mind over many a century.
I am intrigued by the name of the course 'The Old Testament' as Prof. Amy-Jill Levine herself is Jewish. One would've expected a course name such as 'The Hebrew Bible.' But Prof. Levine is one of those scholars who has a very open-minded approach. If I didn't know, I wouldn't have guessed that she is not a Christian scholar. In this course she takes you through almost every aspect of the Old Testament or Tanach or Hebrew Bible, whatever you want to call it. In her lectures she also has a sensitivity for the New Testament and I think this enriches her presentation so much more.
The course consists out of 24 jam packed lectures. Lectures 1-6 focus mainly on the Book of Genesis through which she introduces the various critical approaches of studying the Bible while giving the listener a feeling of the content of the book. I thought lecture 7 "Folklore Analysis and Types Scenes" were a highlight. (If you have listened to Prof. Gary Rendsburg's lecture series 'The Book of Genesis' you might be pleasantly surprised how these two courses complement each other.)
Lectures 8-11 deals with the rest of the Pentateuch (first five books of the Bible). I found her explanation of various laws and why they are the way they are very interesting. She was able to keep my attention through what might seem very boring to some indeed.
Lectures 12-14 deals with the books of Judges and Josua and the conquest of the land. He take on the various judges was refreshing, especially how she interpreted Samson. (It is approached mainly narratively and reminds me a lot of Tammi J Schneider's commentary on Judges in the 'Berit Olam' commentary series.)
Lectures 15-17 deals with the kings of Israel focussing especially on Saul, David and Solomon. The highlight here was her treatment of the story of David and Batsheba. She ends with the earlier prophets.
Lectures 18-21 deals with prophecy, the fall of the two kingdoms (Israel and Judah), the exile and restoration. You will be introduced to Amos, Hosea, Isaiah, Jeremiah and a book like Ruth.
The last three lectures (22-24) deals with Wisdom literature, Song of Songs, Job and Ecclesiastes; the books of the Diaspora, Esther and Daniel and the apocalyptic part of the book of Daniel.
It is quite extensive. Prof. Levine is able to deal with almost all of the important issues in the current scholarly study of the Old Testament.
Her style and enthusiasm for the subject matter keeps the course vivid and easy to follow (that said, you must have at least an inkling of the content of the Old Testament as this is not a crash course in its content.) Unfortunately Audible do not provide any study guide in PDF format for the Great Courses series.
I recommend this course to those who what to get a grip on the Old Testament and want to understand it better. It is an excellent course covering A LOT of information.
Ellen Kushner's ability to weave a net of intrigue is to be admired. In 'Swordspoint: A Melodrama of Manners' the listener is introduced to a mysterious university student that hits it off with a swordsman in the city slums called Riverside. You are quickly reminded in the story that it is not the Middle Ages, but a place where the chivalry of the Middle Ages are blended with modern issues and snobbish aristocracy creating an eerie world within which it plays off.
Kushner is a master of misdirection, suspense and surprise. What I found difficult however was to identify with one of the characters, they felt so otherworldly that I completely felt left out. Maybe I am too conservative in my views, but I found that there was a huge gap between my values and those portrayed by the prominent figures in the book.
The book seems to be a mix between an audio drama and a book. The scenes where voice artists played out the little intrigues were exquisite. It is candy for the ear. Yet I had to tune my ear in to Kushner's reading and identifying of a character that suddenly had her voice and not the male voice of once of the scenes. It made it difficult for me to follow - especially at the beginning - but I while I got more used to it towards the end, I cannot say that it didn't hinder. That said Kushner's own reading was superb.
If you like intrigue, civil nastiness where tea parties are more important than city council meetings and the flare of sword fighting this book might be for you. It is woven together very intricately like a tapestry, so be careful not to get lost by missing a thread. (Listen to it... with manners.)
I was pleasantly surprised with "Enchantment." Based on an array of old versions of the fairytale of sleeping beauty, Orson Scott Card was able to create a powerful story that pulls you in.
Vanya and his parents lives in the USSR. One day when he came from school his parents informed him that his real name is Yitshak Shlomo and that they are going to immigrate to Israel. As they are waiting for visas the Shlomo family stays over at one of his mother's cousins on his farm. It was here that he discovered the sleeping beauty in the woods. But soon they immigrated...
Card sets up the characters in such a way that they find themselves often enough in humorous situation, maybe to soften the dark side of this Americanised fairytale. It seems that the seed of many of the ideas in 'the Gate Thief'-series are found in this fairytale. Card balances the humour successfully with the darker parts and like any fairytale (tarnished by the brothers Grimm) it has a happy ending.
I am not sure if I am getting tired of Stefan Rudnicki's voice, but I don't think that he is the best voice to match with this story. Having listened to a view of Card's books, almost all read at least partly by him, I find it difficult to picture new characters in Card's stories as the writer's style and Rudnicki's voice makes it feel as if some characters are just the same but with a different name. Danny in 'The Gate Thief,' Ender of 'Ender's Game' and Vanya/ Ivan/ Yitschak could just as well have had the same name, except that the libido of Vanya and Ender Wiggins is more subdued. So by the way, there is a woman also reading parts of the story (I didn't catch her name, but she sounds familiar), which did quite a good job.
I would recommend this book to both die-hard Orson Scott Card fans as well as someone who has not heard or read any of his books. It is an excellent, vibrant, humoristic and at times dark story with the power of a fairytale.
According to Orson Scott Card "Ender's Game" is actually the introduction to the much deeper story you will find in "Speaker for the Dead." I am not sure if I agree with this statement. However, I do find the idea of someone speaking the truth about a dead person on or after his funeral very appealing, maybe because I am myself a minister of religion and has buried a lot of people. The basic premise of Card's story is that the truth brings in some or other way healing.
In "Speaker for the Dead" you will meet Ender thousands of years after his great victory over the "Buggers" on his way to the only planet with a different intelligent life form instead of humans in the universe. After the "Piggies" killed one of the members of the human community that has settled on the planet, a call is made by a bitter woman to come and speak the dead person's death. Andrew Wiggins as a Speaker for the Dead responds to the call leaving his sister behind for the first time.
What will the butcher of the "Buggers" find? Meet Ender far off in the future - a changed man - in a new role. The book comes highly recommended. I completely understand why it has won the Nebula award on its hey day.
Like usual David Birney and Stefan Rudnicki does an excellent job with the narration.
I have pictured Sir Terry Prachett very much in the same stage of his career as Albert Uderzo after his previous two discworld novels. It seemed that some of the puns got better, but the storyline shoddier. It is with pleasure that I can announce that I am COMPLETELY WRONG!
Moist von Lipwig - the rascal from ‘Going Postal’ and ‘Making Money’ is back… with a HUF and a PUFF! In ‘Raising Steam’ Lord Vetinari - the Patrician of Ankh-Morpork - calls in the help of the scoundrel of scoundrels to work miracles thus ensuring that the new invention - the steam locomotive - becomes the new buzz around the Discworld.
For die-hard Discworld fans, the basic story is very much the same as that of “The Truth.” A new invention comes along, there is a threat to the invention, the obstacle is eliminated and everybody lives happily ever after with the invention changing the city or the Discworld. (With Überwald in the picture, you might say that it is “The Truth” but bitten by a black ribbon vampire.)
In this story you will meet the dear sir Harry King the king of pooh (without an ‘h’) leaving his toilet humour behind and becoming a Railway Baron. Obviously the blackboard monitor, commander of the watch, Sir Samuel Vimes has to use his talents for getting the criminals to talk. But the biggest difference is that this time Ankh-Morpork’s bureaucracy are not the enemy. It is throwing in its weight behind the steam kettle and getting its hands dirty.
In the end the Discworld has once again changed… but is it for the better?
What I like about this book is the way Terry Prachett’s uses the ‘lore’ of the Discworld to create a fun-filled adventure. He brings together a lot of Discworld strains. However, if you have never read (or listened to) any Discworld novels, you will still be able to enjoy it.
Stephen Briggs - as always - performs the story terrifically. (This is definitely more than just reciting a book aloud.) Once again he brings the Discworld and its people to life.
For those who love the Discworld, especially when Sir Terry Pratchett is at his best, this book is a return to the good old ways (but with a new jacket). It is so good I think it will make an excellent gift to someone dear to you. If you are a new comer to the Discworld you could start here and later enjoy the rest. It comes highly recommended.
Do you have to listen to the audiobook of ‘Ender’s Game’ if you had listened to the audio play ‘Ender’s Game Alive’ and want to further immerse yourself in the so-called ‘Enderverse’? A lot of die-hard Ender fans seems to swear by it judging from the reviews. I disagree.
While ‘Ender’s Game’ is probably the best option for the purist, ‘Ender’s Game Alive’ gives you the whole story and more, since Orson Scott Card has seemingly incorporated some ideas from ‘Ender’s Shadow’ in the audio play. Furthermore die-hard Enderverse purists should start with ‘First Meetings: in the Enderverse’ which contains the original novelette. Personally, I prefer ‘Ender’s Game Alive’ due to the actors and the ripening of an old classic into its current form.
Yet this review is about ‘Ender’s Game’ which is itself an excellent production which also deserves five stars.
The story while along the same lines, are more inward focussed. Much is left implicit and it seems that the listener is caught up in the mind of the boy Ender Wiggin. The listener sees the world of Battle School through the eyes of Ender and your emotions are closely linked to the way he experiences things. The audiobook also provides you with more elaborate scenes especially after the great war against the ‘Buggers’ are won.
The bonus material added to the audiobook ‘Ender’s Game’ might tip the scale in buying the audiobook and not the audio play. Orson Scott Card discusses how ‘Ender’s Game’ came into being for more than half an hour. It is indeed an interesting listen which also gives you some insight on how the film came into being. In another added recording at the back of the audiobook, Card addresses young listeners/readers about the truths found in Ender’s Game and how it apply to their world. If you care for these things, the audiobook might be the best choice. If not, you are faced with a difficult decision - both ‘Ender’s Game’ (the audio book) and ‘Ender’s Game Alive’ are excellent productions that brings alive the Enderverse. Enjoy Ender’s universe, just don’t buy both versions of Ender’s Game.
Before now, I have never read or listened to Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game epic. It is possible that I might never have done so, was it not for the hype created by Audible releasing the first three chapters of “Ender’s Game Alive” before the official release this full cast audio drama. It was while listening to the first free chapters that I got seriously hooked.
I understand that Orson Scott Card rewrote his original Ender’s Game into this audio drama. Performed by a full cast directed by Gabrielle de Cuir this is probably one of the best audio drama’s I have listened to. A good story coloured presented by an excellent voice cast and music specially adapted for this audio drama makes it not only a winner, it becomes an addiction. Be warned, you might not stop listening until the very end. This is one of the best audio drama’s I have ever heard.
The storyline is very basic. The listener finds him-/herself in the Wiggin’s home on earth some years in the future. One is aware that something is amiss because married couples may only have two children. You become aware that the genetically engineered Peter and Valentine Wiggin’s parents are allowed to have a third child, because Peter and Valentine weren’t completely the right material to enter Battle School. Thus came about Andrew “Ender” Wiggin. All humankind’s hope seems to be fixed on him to free the human race from an extra-terrestrial threat called the Formics. To do so, however, Ender Wiggen is admitted to Battle School at the age of 6 years.
The audio drama is based on these formative years of Ender. What makes it very effective is the way the line between what is real and what is practise are blurred until almost the very end when the pieces of the puzzle falls in place. I thought it was done neatly and convincingly.
This audio drama is an excellent suspense drama wrapped in a science fiction cloak. I believe that those who have enjoyed Ender’s Game in the past as well as those of us who are new to this science fiction classic will enjoy a five star performance of a five star story.
Tony Robinson has the ability to blow life into any Discworld abridgement in such a way that you won't even miss the titbits cut out by the abridger. In the case of 'Night Watch' the niceties found in Terry Prachett's sideway remarks and such colourful characters as Constable Buggy Squires, Sergeant Anqua and Captain Carrot Ironfoundersohn are almost completely absent. The abridgement seems also a bit more children friendly with words like 'arse' changed to its more suitable counterparts.
Fortunately enough of Terry Pratchett's wit is left to make this Night Watch novel just as enjoyable as the unabridged version.
The story is solid, with sir Samuel Vimes, commander of the Ankhmorpork City Watch, chasing a cop murderer into the past to ensure that justice will serve. Pratchett catches the camaraderie between Police officials splendidly and vividly. When the arch-criminal and cop murderer Carser becomes one of the gang, the plot thickens and Vimes has to choose between going back to his time of serving justice. Typically Discworld style Vimes chooses against what you and I would have.
I thoroughly enjoyed this recording of 'Night Watch.' You might want to buy it for Tony Robinson's performance and for being child safe, otherwise the unabridged version should be seriously considered.
Sean Pratt seems to be a established narrator of audio books. He reads with a clear voice but gosh, he started of slowly in this book. So much so, that I thought I would never get through the book. Maybe it is just I, but in the beginning of the book I found it extremely difficult to follow, mostly due to the way he read the book... v--e--r--y s--l--o--w--l--y, you struggled to grasp thought units. In all fairness, he improved a lot towards the end of the book. Yet he should be banned from pronouncing Hebrew, Arabic, Aramaic and even Latin words.
About the book: Joel L Kraemer has written a solid scholarly and very well informed biography. This book might become the Authoritative work to consult in years to come about the Jewish physician and philosopher, Moses Ben Maimon. It is a critical history and the author aims to place Maimonides within his times. Kramer did especially care to do so.
Much of Maimonides' life is reconstructed through letters he wrote that were preserved in the Cairo Genizah of the Ben Ezra Synagogue. Kraemer has consulted a vast array of Arabic literature that bears on Maimonides. His proficiency with Hebrew, Aramaic and Arabic impresses.
Kraemer introduces Maimonides systematically. His multi-faceted personality is almost divided into various parts eg. Maimonides the scholar of Jewish Law; the Physician and the Apostate etc. I found his method of 'publishing' his books in a pre-print time very intriguing. Earlier authorised copies, though endorsed by him didn't carry the same amount of weight as later ones.
I would recommend this book to someone who wants to know a bit more of Judaism in the Middle Ages and the coexistence of different religions with one another during this time. It will also be of great value to the Jewish historian, but be warned you might have to endure something similar to 'narrative torture' for just under a quarter of the book. Yet I suggest persevere.
Saul Mayzlish and Leon H Charney gives an overview of how the two Talmudim, the Bavli and the Yerushalmi, came into existence. For most part it seems to be and excellent overview of these two books.
Furthermore George Guidall does a superb job of reading the book.
I found the prejudice in the latter part of this book towards the Talmud Yerushalmi a bit disappointing. I could not help to suspect an 'religious-political' agenda which sings the praises of the Talmud Yerushalmi over against the Bavli, just because the Yerushalmi propagates a literal an physical return to the country of Israel. It didn't convince me.
What I do appreciate about the book is the interesting tit bits about how the two Talmudim developed. I found it especially interesting that the Yerushalmi only has one extant manuscript in which it is preserved.
Maybe, because I am not Jewish, a lot of this book's significance might have passed me by. It is definitely biased, yet interesting.
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