- Paperback: 448 pages
- Publisher: Ballantine Books; New edition edition (Nov. 2 1999)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0345412702
- ISBN-13: 978-0345412706
- Product Dimensions: 14 x 2.5 x 21.6 cm
- Shipping Weight: 340 g
- Average Customer Review: 6 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,036,445 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Moses: A Life Paperback – Nov 2 1999
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"A brightly written piece of work that shows how much life remains in [the Bible], even as the twenty-first century presses ever closer to us."
--The Washington Post
"MOSES IS AS ENTRANCING TODAY AS HE WAS ON THE DAY PHARAOH'S DAUGHTER PLUCKED HIM FROM THE BULRUSHES."
"A DEEPLY PROBING SEARCH FOR 'THE REAL MOSES' . . . Kirsch has made uses of an extensive range of sources available in English translation . . . [and] has drawn from them selectively and well. . . . This is the Moses, a man at war with himself and with his world, whose image is enshrined in the hearts of all those inspired by him, whose influence has never ceased, and whose life, struggling against himself, Kirsch is compelled to celebrate."
--San Francisco Chronicle
"JONATHAN KIRSCH GIVES NEW LIFE AND PERSONALITY TO MOSES, THE GREATEST OF ALL PROPHETS, OFFERING DELIGHT THAT ONE RARELY EXPECTS FROM BIBLICAL SCHOLARSHIP."
--PETER J. GOMES
Plummer Professor of Christian Morals
and Pusey Minister in The Memorial Church
at Harvard University
"A LIVELY NARRATIVE . . . There is a figure here looming up through the mists of tradition and folk memory that is of compelling significance, complex and disturbing. In Moses, Jonathan Kirsch picks his way with great skill through traditions, conjectures, legends and known historical facts to produce a plausible . . . account of the life and times of the great lawgiver. . . . The urge to seek a real human figure behind the biblical account is frequently and understandably felt, and we must be grateful to a scholar who has been able to extract and skillfully present virtually all that can now be conjectured about this extraordinary figure."
--Los Angeles Times
From the Inside Flap
Lawgiver and liberator. Seer and prophet. The only human permitted to converse with God "face-to-face." Moses is the most commanding presence in the Old Testament. Yet as Jonathan Kirsch shows in this brilliant, stunningly original volume, Moses was also an enigmatic and mysterious figure--at once a good shepherd and a ruthless warrior, a spiritual leader and a magician, a lawgiver who broke his own laws, God's chosen friend and hounded victim. Now, in Moses: A Life, Kirsch accomplishes the wondrous feat of revealing the real Moses, a strikingly modern figure who steps out from behind the facade of Sunday school lessons and movie matinees.
Drawing on the biblical text and a treasury of both scholarship and storytelling, Kirsch examines all that is known and all that has been imagined of Moses. In these vivid pages, we see the marvels and mysteries of Moses's life in a new light--his rescue in infancy and adoption by an Egyptian princess; his reluctant assumption of the role of liberator; his struggles to wrest his people from the pharaoh's dominion; his desperate vigil on Mount Sinai. Here too is the darker, more ominous Moses--the sorcerer, the husband of a pagan woman, the military commander who cold-bloodedly ordered the slaying of innocent people; the beloved of God whom God sought twice to murder.
Jonathan Kirsch brings both prodigious knowledge and a keen imagination to one of the most compelling stories of the Bible, and the results are fascinating. A figure of mystery, passion, and contradiction, Moses emerges from this book very much a hero for our time.
"From the Hardcover edition.See all Product description
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My favorite passage in this book was the fact that, apparently, in some Bibles it says that Moses has horns. The author relates an experience where someone was starring at him, looking for horns, because the author is Jewish. It strikes me as a very funny scene. Yet, at the same time, it is sad. Here was someone, who read the Bible and took it very seriously, apparently mislead by a bad translation. How many people may have been mislead about more serious parts of the Bible?
In truth, according to this author, the Bible says that Moses was marked by his talks with God. After Moses meet with God, Moses covered his face. People who saw his face were shocked. It was this experience that was translated as Moses having horns. I never knew that Moses had to keep his face covered and also never knew that others thought Moses had horns. As such, items like this made this book very interesting to me.
There are many other examples. Did you know that God tried to kill Moses after he picked him to be his spokeperson to the Pharoah? Did you know that some believe Moses was a prince of Ethiopia? Did you know that the Jewish leaders may have had a secret code, which was given to Moses by God? Otherwise, how did he prove, to them, that he was God's messenger?
If you like interesting facts like this, you will enjoy this book. If you, however, are looking for a religious book, this book may not be you. This is not a book on theology. It is a book about history or religious history. If that is the type of book you like, you will love Mose's, A Life. For these types of people, I recommend it.
If you are interested in this subject, there are far better texts. Start with a bible with traditional comentators and go from there. Like with Frued, this will tell you more about Kirsch and the biases of a liberal Jew in LA then it will tell you about Moses.
Author Jonathan Kirsch strips away the legends and myths surrounding the man Moses and presents him as the Bible does -- as a real person. Moses: A Life is a thoughtful and witty account of the Biblical record, but it's also irreverent in ways that may offend some readers.
The author doesn't take his subject too seriously and writes in a playful, engaging style: "Moses displayed a shocking tendency to kvetch to God about the burdens of leading the Israelites out of slavery," he writes. " [At times he sounded] more like Woody Allen than Charlton Heston." The author also describes Moses as an 80 year-old man "schlepping" up and down Mt. Sinai.
The author presents some interesting twists to the familiar story and muses on some of the miracles in Moses' life. For example, he writes of the women who saved Moses as a baby: the midwife who disobeyed Pharaoh by not killing him; the mother who risked her life to hide him; the sister who followed him in the "ark"; and the Egyptian princess who drew him from the water.
The most surprising aspect of the book is the ending. The death of Moses -- surely no surprise to anyone -- is unexpectedly moving. But it's then we realize the author's endearing anecdotes and wry observations have deliberately set us up for his dramatic conclusion.
While the book provides much useful information about the world of the Exodus, there are some serious drawbacks. The author doesn't believe Moses actually existed and he seems to embrace the controversial theory that the Torah was written by five sources: "J" (the Yahwist); "E" (the Elohist); "P" (the "priestly source"); "D" (the "Deuteronomist"); and "R" (the "redactors"/editors). Clearly, there are no sacred cows (so to speak) with Kirsch.
Moses: A Life will change the way you look at the Exodus. It has some big limitations, but it's one of the most intimate examinations of this event ever written.