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Beginnings: Reflections on the Bible's Intriguing Firsts

4.12 of 5 stars 4.12  ·  rating details  ·  57 ratings  ·  11 reviews
The bestselling and prize-winning Israeli author Meir Shalev describes the many "firsts" of the Bible – the first love and the first death, to the first laugh and the first dream – providing a fresh, secular and surprising look at the stories we think we know.

The first kiss in the Bible is not a kiss of love. The first love in the Bible is not the love of a man and a woman
ebook, 304 pages
Published March 1st 2011 by Harmony (first published 2008)
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Henry Sturcke
I thought I knew the narratives of the Hebrew Bible fairly well, but Shalev surprised me with his insight. Part of this is from his close reading of the text and attention to detail, part of it is his own sense of characterisation borne of his own experience as a novelist. A third ingredient, perhaps most indispensable, is that he does not approach the text or its characters as "holy". This gives him license to question the actions and motives of Abraham, Samuel and Elijah, while rehabilitating ...more
Michael Lewyn
This book presents an unusual combination: a set of essays about the Torah by an Israeli novelist who believes the Bible was written by and for men.

Often Shalev's insights are quite interesting: for example, his discussion of David points out that many people loved him, but that he loved hardly anyone. Perhaps as a result, David becomes less moral and less competent over time.

Shalev also sheds new light on the David/Goliath story, discussing his father's use of a slingshot to create precise dent
Emma S
The beginning and middle are stronger than the end, but in every chapter Shalev explores the Biblical texts surrounding the first appearance of a specific root (Hebrew is a language based on three-letter roots) in the Hebrew Bible. The book does explore some subtle grammatical points, so I'm not sure how well that came through in the translation. Very interesting book.
Louise Silk
This is a must read for anyone interested in the bible. The author reintroduces all of the great heroes and heroines of the Hebrew Scripture in a series of firsts including the first kiss, the first laugh, and the first dream. His analysis is skillful, innovative and even provocative and clearly Shalev knows his bible. It was refreshing to see a modern look at a traditional subject that is accessible with a secular perspective.

I loved his fiction work: A Pigeon and a Boy and would recommend chec
You may wonder why I started a new shelf called 'Bible' for this book when I already have one called 'Judaism'. The answer is that this is by no means a religious text. Sometimes it is quite the opposite, in fact. At some points it is exceedingly so, to the point that it is annoying.

Don't get me wrong - it's a good book, and a thought-provoking one at that. Just don't expect any rabbi to like it.
You know a book deserves 5 stars when you are sad that you've finished reading it. (Something is missing, irretrievably)

I guess that never before has anything ever made me want to reread - and re-reread - the stories from the Tanakh as much as 'Beginnings' by Shalev. If you're interested in the Bible, be it only slightly, read this book. It is probably going to change your perspective for a lifetime.
Leuk boek. In een boek over de Bijbel gaat het uiteraard om het uitleggen ervan, van Gods bedoeling met mensen. Maar dit boek laat ook zien dan de Bijbel een heel literair boek is dat is geschreven door mensen met bijzondere schrijftalenten.

Enige nadeel is de keuze voor "eerste keren", het gaat daardoor nogal veel over dezelfde verhalen uit het begin van de Bijbel: Abraham, Izaak en Jakob.
This book about biblical first is fantastic for any time of discussion group. Each chapter can stand alone as an essay. Shalev is a secularist which does mean that his observations on the Bible should be considered inconsequential. His analysis is thought provoking and considers literary structure and human behavior. I can recommend this most strongly!
Recommended by Rabbi Sonia Saltzman:

In Beginnings, bestseling and prize winning Israei author Meir Shalev, describes the many "firsts" of the Bible- from the first love and the first death to the first laugh and the first dream -providing a fresh and surprising look at the stories we think we know.
Delightful if irreverent Torah commentary from a secular writer who knows his Tanach. Wish all Jews, religious as well as secular, were as well versed as Shalev in Tanach. Of course well written resulting in very good reading for all.
Een zwaar teleurstellend boek.Het blijft aan de oppervlakte zodat het niets toevoegde aan wat ik al wist. De opzet,de eerste keren in de bijbel,is uitermate geforceerd.Ik zie de zin of functie ervan totaal niet in.
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Meir Shalev is one of Israel’s most celebrated novelists. He has received many awards for his work, including the National Jewish Book Award and Israel’s Brenner Prize, both for A Pigeon and a Boy.

A columnist for the Israeli daily Yedioth Ahronoth, Shalev lives in Jerusalem and in northern Israel with his wife and children.

More about Meir Shalev...
A Pigeon and a Boy My Russian Grandmother and Her American Vacuum Cleaner: A Family Memoir The Blue Mountain Four Meals Esau: A Novel

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