For thousands of years, the stories contained within the Torah - the first five books of the Hebrew Bible - have been passed down, revered, studied, and wondered at. From Adam and Eve, Noah and the Flood, and Abraham’s near-sacrifice of Isaac, through Jacob and his twelve sons, Joseph and his coat of many colors, and finally to Moses, who led his people out of slavery in Egypt and accepted God’s Ten Commandments, these stories tell the history of the Jewish people and their relationship with God.
It first surfaced in the gripes of GIs during World War II and was captured early on by the typewriter of a young Norman Mailer. Within a generation it had become a basic notion of our everyday moral life, replacing older reproaches like lout and heel with a single inclusive category. We have conflicting attitudes about the A-word, but considering how much the word does for us, and to us, it hasn't gotten nearly the attention it deserves - at least until now.