The Story of the Jews: Finding the Words, 1000 BCE –

The Story of the Jews: Finding the Words, 1000 BCE – 1492 CE➱ The Story of the Jews: Finding the Words, 1000 BCE – 1492 CE Read ➹ Author Simon Schama – Varanus.us It is a story like no other an epic of endurance against destruction, of creativity in oppression, joy amidst grief, the affirmation of life against the steepest of odds It spans the millennia and the It is a story of the Kindle Ô like no other an epic of endurance against destruction, of creativity in oppression, joy amidst grief, the affirmation of life against the steepest of odds It spans the The Story PDF or millennia and the continents from India to Andalusia and from the bazaars of Cairo to the streets of Oxford It takes you to unimagined places to a Jewish kingdom in the mountains of Story of the PDF/EPUB Á southern Arabia a Syrian synagogue glowing with radiant wall paintings the palm groves of the Jewish dead in the Roman catacombs And its voices ring loud and clear, from the severities and ecstasies of the Bible writers to the love poems of wine bibbers in a garden in Muslim SpainAnd a great story unfolds Not as often imagined of a culture apart, but of a Jewish world immersed in and imprinted by the peoples among whom they have dwelled, from the Egyptians to the Greeks, from the Arabs to the Christians Which makes the story of the Jews everyone s story, too.

The Story of the Jews: Finding the Words, 1000 BCE –
    The Story of the Jews: Finding the Words, 1000 BCE – of the Bible writers to the love poems of wine bibbers in a garden in Muslim SpainAnd a great story unfolds Not as often imagined of a culture apart, but of a Jewish world immersed in and imprinted by the peoples among whom they have dwelled, from the Egyptians to the Greeks, from the Arabs to the Christians Which makes the story of the Jews everyone s story, too."/>
  • Hardcover
  • 496 pages
  • The Story of the Jews: Finding the Words, 1000 BCE – 1492 CE
  • Simon Schama
  • English
  • 01 August 2019
  • 1847921329

    10 thoughts on “The Story of the Jews: Finding the Words, 1000 BCE –

    The Story of the Jews: Finding the Words, 1000 BCE – of the Bible writers to the love poems of wine bibbers in a garden in Muslim SpainAnd a great story unfolds Not as often imagined of a culture apart, but of a Jewish world immersed in and imprinted by the peoples among whom they have dwelled, from the Egyptians to the Greeks, from the Arabs to the Christians Which makes the story of the Jews everyone s story, too."/>
  1. says:

    Simply the best book I ve read in many years, due largely to the quality of Schama s voice As a history, it s fascinating in its wide range from the Mesopotamia of 1000 BC to the Spanish Inquisition, from a fort at the head of the Nile to the Tower of London, from Aramaic to Arabic to Ladino That scope can be a bit dizzying, as the pace accelerates after the Roman destruction of the Temple generations pass in the blink of a few pages But through it all, Schama s narrative voice is a guide Simply the best book I ve read in many years, due largely to the quality of Schama s voice As a history, it s fascinating in its wide range from the Mesopotamia of 1000 BC to the Spanish Inquisition, from a fort at the head of the Nile to the Tower of London, from Aramaic to Arabic to Ladino That scope can be a bit dizzying, as the pace accelerates after the Roman destruction of the Temple generations pass in the blink of a few pages But through it all, Schama s narrative voice is a guide warm, erudite, frequently laugh out loud funny, always intimate and human even when taking on metaphysics, theology, and the course of empires While I d read Schama on the history of drying paint at this point, _The Story of the Jews_ does something nearly unique in history writing it ties everything together Much of what I ve read on the Bronze Age Near East takes cultures in isolation, and I ve had a hard time piecing together a picture of the simultaneity of those cultures Schama does that, moving from Egypt to Mesopotamia to the Hellenistic world, providing a picture of a globalized world of interactions Also, much of what I d gotten of early Jewish history has come filtered through the Romans and their followers, who tended to picture Jewish monotheism as incompatible with states and cultures built on polytheistic tolerance Schama gives us multiple perspectives playing out over millennia separatists and assimilators, mystics and rationalists, identity as ethnic or theological He also celebrates art, beauty, ordinary life, alongside the inevitable horrors above all, this book is profoundly humanistic in the best sense of the term, delighting in life, and above all, for Jewish culture, the word Just read this book It s a wonderful life experience


  2. says:

    Excellent content but very dense prose Mellifluous it isn t, but then he s chosen a story of immense complexity to cover in two volumes 2,500 years covered here in 421 pages equals 5.9 elapsed years per page I m thinking back to Schama s sprightly Citizens of 1990 What did he cover there in 750 pages, was it 60 years By comparison volume one of The Story of the Jews is super concentrated Excellent content but very dense prose Mellifluous it isn t, but then he s chosen a story of immense complexity to cover in two volumes 2,500 years covered here in 421 pages equals 5.9 elapsed years per page I m thinking back to Schama s sprightly Citizens of 1990 What did he cover there in 750 pages, was it 60 years By comparison volume one of The Story of the Jews is super concentrated


  3. says:

    I had never heard of Elephantine, and Simon Schama is betting that you haven t either, as he opens volume one Finding the Words of his massive and massively entertaining history of the Jewish people from their puzzling origins to their brutal expulsion from Spain in 1492 Volume two When the Words Fail takes the story to the present.In Schama s telling, Elephantine, a Jewish garrison town on an island in the Nile River that dates from the fifth century BCE both reinforces and contradicts I had never heard of Elephantine, and Simon Schama is betting that you haven t either, as he opens volume one Finding the Words of his massive and massively entertaining history of the Jewish people from their puzzling origins to their brutal expulsion from Spain in 1492 Volume two When the Words Fail takes the story to the present.In Schama s telling, Elephantine, a Jewish garrison town on an island in the Nile River that dates from the fifth century BCE both reinforces and contradicts many of our modern preconceptions about the history of Jews and Israel The founding story, after all, is of Moses leading his people out of Egypt to the promised land Yet here are Jews returning to Egypt as Jews did throughout the succeeding centuries In the 12th century, for instance, Moses Maimonides, after escaping Spain and living briefly in Palestine, ended up as physician to the sultan and leader of the Jewish community in Cairo He wrote as fluently in Arabic as in Hebrew.Schama s purpose, in these and innumerable other examples, is not to discount the unique identity of Jewish religion and culture, nor the oppression and brutality its people endured over the centuries Instead, he emphasizes how Jews always participated in the cultures where they found themselves whether that of the Babylonians, Persians, Egyptians, Greek Seleucids, classical Rome, Christian Europe, or the Islamic Middle East At the same time, they clung to the words of the Torah, and later the Talmud, with a devotion that not even the worst attacks could break as when the Second Temple in Jerusalem was finally razed for good by the Romans in 70 CE, after earlier sacks of the city by the Babylonians and the Assyrians.The priests may have controlled the words of the Hebrew Bible and the rolling commentaries of the Mishnah and Talmud But as Schama points out, the archaeology and the surviving scrolls of papyrus and parchment remind us that Jewish history is not all thundering prophets and Biblical prohibitions, but ordinary people living complicated and rich, if often difficult lives that didn t correspond to anyone s stereotypes particularly the role of women We have glimpses of these worlds in the Elephantine papyri of the ancient world but a veritable picture window view of 11th and 12th century Jewish life in the vast materials remains preserved in the Cairo Geniza collection of the Ben Ezra synagogue of Fustat, Old Cairo.But if ancient and medieval Jews did not live by words alone, words were absolutely central to their cultural survival, whether in Aramaic, Hebrew, Greek, Arabic, Ladino, or Judeo Arabic Arabic written in Hebrew characters The Arch of Titus in Rome, for example, celebrates the conquest of Jerusalem with a carved procession of spoils from the Second Temple, but significantly it lacks the Torah scrolls They were just words written on parchment or papyrus, after all how important could they be Perhaps not to Rome, but absolutely key to Jewish identity and survival A fact not lost on the fanatical friars, monks, and Judeophobic rulers and Popes of medieval Europe who arranged for trials of Judaism that resulted in mass book burnings of illuminated Talmuds, Haggadahs, and other holy books when they were not whipping mobs up to murder Jews directly The repeated attacks and generalized cruelty toward Jews from England to Spain in the medieval period makes for painful reading We have few firsthand chronicles of battles for or against Jews in the ancient world, but eyewitness accounts abound, with individual names, of the atrocities in later centuries in both the Christian and Islamic worlds An ancient world exception is Josephus, Jewish officer turned Roman adviser, who wrote a history of the sack of Jerusalem, The Jewish Wars The narrative of Jewish life in the Christian and Muslim worlds is nuanced and alive Schama is a vivid if not flamboyant writer who knows how to exploit a remarkable life from Jewish history when he finds one Among the most memorable the poet warrior Shmuel ibn Naghrela and physician poet scholar Yehudah Halevi both of whom lived in the Christian and Islamic Spain of the 11th and 12th centuries Schama also devotes considerable and careful space to the life and work of Moses Maimonides 1135 1204 , author of the highly influential A Guide to the Perplexed.The conclusion of Schama s book is a bitter one the final persecution of the Jews in Spain that concluded with their brutal expulsion by Ferdinand and Isabella in the yearfamiliar to us for other reasons 1492


  4. says:

    I thought, I can t wait to see how it ends I should have waited Volume 1 ends with the Inquisition burning, and the Crown expelling, Jews by the thousands Schama writes with great brio and a distinctively conversational wit though I just can t make myself as interested in architectural and holographic details as he is , but there is no way to disguise the terrible sadness of angry Christianity in action One wants to cry out, again and again, Have they never read that book of theirs


  5. says:

    I was somewhat disappointed by the book Given the high profile of the author I had come to expect a very competent and thorough historical account but found myself confused from the first chapter onwards about the direction of the book Although I appreciate that this is not meant to be popular science or Jews for Dummies the book expects a lot of prior knowledge in several disciplines, unless you want to continuously flick back to the index I know some of the necessary background but not enou I was somewhat disappointed by the book Given the high profile of the author I had come to expect a very competent and thorough historical account but found myself confused from the first chapter onwards about the direction of the book Although I appreciate that this is not meant to be popular science or Jews for Dummies the book expects a lot of prior knowledge in several disciplines, unless you want to continuously flick back to the index I know some of the necessary background but not enough to follow Schama s narrative and train of thought which seemed to jump between tribes, locations, philosophical aspects and other topics


  6. says:

    Can you think of any ethnic group that has beenclosely studied than the Jews I can t Thousands upon thousands of books have been written about Jews and Judaismthan 53,000 are listed onalone surely a small fraction of the total works produced over the three millennia that have passed since King David united the nation of Israel.Why, then, does Simon Schama write yet another history of the Jews The easy answer, of course, is that he was approached to produce a television Can you think of any ethnic group that has beenclosely studied than the Jews I can t Thousands upon thousands of books have been written about Jews and Judaismthan 53,000 are listed onalone surely a small fraction of the total works produced over the three millennia that have passed since King David united the nation of Israel.Why, then, does Simon Schama write yet another history of the Jews The easy answer, of course, is that he was approached to produce a television series for the BBC later broadcast on PBS, too , but of course the reality iscomplex Schama is himself Jewish, and early in his career he began work on a history of his people, which remained unfinished for four decades Equally important, he is an accomplished historian as widely celebrated for his lucid prose as for his award winning and bestselling books Citizens A Chronicle of the French Revolution, Rembrandt s Eyes and for his previous work on television A History of Britain for the BBC.Schama isn t the sort of historian who chronicles the succession of kings and battles and Great Men that dominate most traditional historical works He s a cultural historian Though English and formerly on the faculty of Cambridge and Oxford Universities, he now serves as University Professor of History and Art History at Columbia University in New York His books spotlight the work of the poets and painters, the merchants and bankers, the preachers and rabbis in short, those who most directly affect the way people lived their lives as well as the economic and political circumstances that enveloped them all.In The Story of the Jews Finding the Words, Professor Schama conveys an impressionistic picture of Jewish life from just before the reign of King David until the expulsion of the Jews from Spain by Ferdinand and Isabella in 1492 yes, the same year we celebrate as the time when the New World was discovered Like the French Impressionists of later centuries, Schama daubs a little paint on the canvas here or there, giving the reader an impression of one key figure or fateful event, and a littlesomewhere else, jumping to a different topic, creating a sense of the warp and woof of life for the Jews during a particular period His account is chronological, at least for the most part, but the overall impression conveyed by the book is that of broad trends and consequential periods that dominate the story, while other times and other trends appear only in passing, if at all.Schama s overarching theme is clear, at any rate, and it s signaled in the book s subtitle Judaism is one of the three religions of the Book it s very essence lies in words But for Jews, the words keep coming long after the rules laid down in the Ten Commandments and the Torah the Mishna, the Talmud, the ceaseless outpouring of rabbinical thoughts so that our lives continue to revolve around words Should anyone therefore be surprised that it s said of the Israeli parliament, the Knesset, that it consists of 120 members with 120 different points of view I found the book to be rough going, even though I feel reasonably well grounded in Jewish history Schama dropped far too many names of obscure figures, and too many words in Hebrew or Latin, without definition or explanation The Story of the Jews is not a good introduction to the topic for the general reader As a companion to the PBS series, it might make better sense, but I didn t view it.The present volume brings the tale up to 1492 A second volume The Story of the Jews Volume 2 When Words Fail, 1492 Present is due in November 2014 I m undecided whether to buy it


  7. says:

    A very good book Though at times I got lost in some of the minutia of Jewish cultural references, the book was well written and easy to read Schama writes in a very engaging way and brings to light the horrors of suffering put on the Jews across the centuries, but also beautifully paints a picture of the rich culture and history that developed in spite of this All in all a brilliant insight into an often forgotten aspect of history


  8. says:

    In this first volume, Simon Schama largely succeeds in attaining his two goals for a history of the Jews It should tell the story of the Jews in their complex interaction with other peoples, and it should deal with a range of real Jewish character types, as opposed to the stock characters of the medieval rabbi and the modern Zionist He starts out with the bold decision to begin his narrative, not in Palestine in the era of the patriarchs, but in Egypt around the time the Hebrew Bible was codif In this first volume, Simon Schama largely succeeds in attaining his two goals for a history of the Jews It should tell the story of the Jews in their complex interaction with other peoples, and it should deal with a range of real Jewish character types, as opposed to the stock characters of the medieval rabbi and the modern Zionist He starts out with the bold decision to begin his narrative, not in Palestine in the era of the patriarchs, but in Egypt around the time the Hebrew Bible was codified We re there presented with a community that s robustly Jewish to the point of constructing its own Temple in defiance of the Deuteronomic rule, but which routinely intermarries with its non Jewish neighbors and even swears by their gods.This account raises a theme to which Schama frequently returns in the rest of the book Judaism and Jewish culture overlap, but one is not completely reducible to the other Instead, they are in dynamic interaction, a state of affairs that s perhaps unavoidable for a civilization whose ritual of Torah reading isa raucous conversation than a lecture Jewish practice may often be at variance with religious rules, particularly those of a later age It s not uncommon to find mosaics of animals, biblical personages, and even gods in Greco Roman synagogues, perhaps in defiance of the Decalogue strictures against images On the other side of the coin, the Hasmonean monarchy s attempt to make Hanukkah a kind of second Passover was never really embraced by the rabbinical establishment And though elite Jewish opinion agreed with the desirability of living in the Holy Land, Jews throughout the ages frequently found themselves seeking refuge in a place the Bible proscribes Egypt There were always many ways of being Jewish And though Schama is emphatic against minimalist critics that the Jews are a bona fide people of ancient provenance, he stresses that their culture has always existed in synergistic interaction with the cultures of others.With the advent of Christianity and Islam, Schama s account becomeslike a traditional lachrymose history of the Jews The cross fertilization of ideas continued across the religious divide, sometimes in surprising ways As just one example, the Passover seder may have been influenced by the Catholic rite of Holy Communion And Jews continued to excel in many roles, pushing the boundaries of knowledge and industry e.g., in medicine and navigation But with the maturing of the Middle Ages, exclusion, massacre, forced conversion, and expulsion became a recurrent feature of Jewish existence, as though Christendom was attempting to forcibly eliminate the ancient interaction between Jews and non Jews This probably marks the end of an era and therefore a logical place for Schama to conclude his first volume


  9. says:

    Tale of WoeThe brilliant, erudite and articulate Simon Schama produces a muddled, idiosyncratic history of his people OK, our people Using his usual trick of engaging you through people you may or may not have heard of to make general points, this first volume only pays dividends in the later chapters on the late middle ages and the inquisition Until then, it s a mess.Schama does not credit biblical history much, unless it is Christian or Muslim history He thinks the Old Testament is pretty Tale of WoeThe brilliant, erudite and articulate Simon Schama produces a muddled, idiosyncratic history of his people OK, our people Using his usual trick of engaging you through people you may or may not have heard of to make general points, this first volume only pays dividends in the later chapters on the late middle ages and the inquisition Until then, it s a mess.Schama does not credit biblical history much, unless it is Christian or Muslim history He thinks the Old Testament is pretty much invention, and the opening chapters are so disappointing, they nearly put me off reading it Things pick up with Josephus, but Schama spendstime covering 10th Century Jewish poetry than he does on the Second Revolt He totally blows the connection between the rise of Christianity and the destruction of the Second Revolt, or the rise of Pauline Christianity s anti Jewishness in the light of the First Jewish Revolt.The later chapters redeem the book to a non Turkey level The sections on Maimonides and the end of the Spanish Jews are just brilliant, readable and special His English tale of woe is also terrific.This followed the television show the first chapter was a mess, but it improved greatly in later chapters When he shines, he shines brightly When he feels it, he can really communicate.Ancient history is clearly not that compelling for Schama, and he often assumes his readers know a lot, when they know much less than him He bends over backwards to be nice to Christians and Muslims, despite their terrible ideas and behaviours.Most importantly, he never really addresses the core question of Jewish persecution the Job question why me Why the Jews The Greeks, the Romans, the Christians, the Muslims I mean, Randy Newman wipes the floor with him listen to the words on God s Song


  10. says:

    I really enjoyed both Mr Schama s multi episode documentaries A History of Britain and The Story of the Jews, which this book is the first of a planned two volume companion to that series, but I had never actually read any of Mr Schama s works I am pleased to say that Mr Schama s style of telling history is just as good on the page as it is on the screen This book spans the story of Jews and Jewish life from their earliest biblical days still being unearthed in Israel and Ancient Egyptian c I really enjoyed both Mr Schama s multi episode documentaries A History of Britain and The Story of the Jews, which this book is the first of a planned two volume companion to that series, but I had never actually read any of Mr Schama s works I am pleased to say that Mr Schama s style of telling history is just as good on the page as it is on the screen This book spans the story of Jews and Jewish life from their earliest biblical days still being unearthed in Israel and Ancient Egyptian cities such as Elephantine to the expulsion of the Jews from Spain and Portugal circa 1492 Like its accompanying documentary, Mr Schama typically starts with apersonal and intimate look at a single figure or event to illuminate a broad period of history, a style that deftly synthesizes both the ground level tales and the broad historical trends into a fascinating tale This book also does a great job of illuminating the fact that Jews have been a persecuted group for centuries Even in early Islam, which some hold up to be a paragon of pluralism in the medieval period when compared to Christian Europe, was not an easy place for Jews to live as the Jizya, the tax Muslims applied to unbelievers, could be used in incredibly oppressive ways And everywhere the Jews lived, as Mr Schama points out, there always a sense that their good life would not last as pogroms, forced conversions, and expulsions were always somewhere in the offing But the triumphs of Jewish culture, the Talmud, the building of beautiful synagogues, and the poetry and art remind us of the great contributions of Jews throughout history While not an exhaustive history, I would highly recommend this book and Mr Schama s documentary to anyone interested in Jewish history

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