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Surpassing Wonder: The Invention of the Bible and the Talmuds

4.38  ·  Rating Details ·  47 Ratings  ·  8 Reviews
With wit, elegance, and clarity, Surpassing Wonder illuminates the ancient Hebrew scriptures, the Christian "New Testament", and the Talmuds of the Rabbis by showing who wrote them, under what circumstances, and why they were given the shape they have. These works constitute the very core of our cultural consciousness and in every century have been hidden from us -- first ...more
Hardcover, 658 pages
Published October 1st 1998 by Houghton Mifflin (first published 1998)
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Sep 17, 2010 Leslie rated it really liked it
'm not a Biblical scholar or professional historian, so I'm not sure that I'm a good judge of the worth of a book like this, which is somewhat geared toward the "educated amateur" but deals with historical methods and a tremendous quantity of literature. The subject of the book is the processes that led up to the creation of the main texts of Christianity and Judaism, from the Hebrew Bible up to the Talmuds.

One interesting point that he makes is that the thought and writings of Judaism have had
Larry Jeffery
May 18, 2011 Larry Jeffery rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An awesome achievement, truly wonderful book. A humble but hugely accomplished study of the invention of the Bible and The Talmuds and answers why they were so influential. As foundational books of western culture this book and Christianity the First three thousand years show how the contributions of ideas from our shared history lead to the culture we share today. From the Hebrews, Greeks,Egyptions, Romans and the rest of our ancestors. Also discusses how new ideas get imported from all ...more
Bob White
Jun 14, 2013 Bob White rated it it was amazing
Biblical scholarship spent much of the 20th century atomizing the text into the smallest bits of usable data. This book is a representative example of the next step in Biblical scholarship, taking all of these myriad bits of knowledge and synthesizing them into an accessible body of knowledge. Donald Akenson presents a thoroughgoing set of arguments on the origins and development of these texts. He presents a great deal of material and demonstrates using a wide variety of solid sources. 1)This ...more
Jun 16, 2009 Steve rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Biblical scholars and serious enthusiasts!
Akenson's book does a magnificent job of outlining the historical relevance of the foundational texts and the socio-political atmosphere on the creation of two new sister religions. Christianity and Rabbinical Judaism. Daughter religions of what he refers to as Judahism.

Akenson does an admirable job of bringing to life a dry and arid topic.
Be warned that there are still several long dry spells which I found
myself quickly skimming. Three chapters of Mishnah were more than enough for the non-rabb
May 06, 2014 Peter rated it it was amazing
An amazing achievement, assessing a huge body of evidence from the primary texts and presenting a synthesis with wit and erudition. You don't have to buy into all his conclusions (for example, I wasn't convinced that the final Christian canon was quite as purposefully designed as he suggests) to gain an enormous amount of knowledge and to appreciate the real questions which need to be asked, and the methods that can and cannot be used legitimately. His Appendix demolishing many of the methods of ...more
Mar 22, 2008 Adam rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People who like to know the how and why of the various bibles
IF you really, really want to know how the bible(s) were created this is the dry book that will go over every little bit for you. Harmon Akenson give a very detailed explanation of everything from the 5 books of Moses, the Talmud, the new Testament and old Testament. He also gives great insight into what social, cultural or even political forces that gave rise to poetry in Psalms to Armageddon in Revelations. It is big and dry and uses big words, but is a good source for lively cocktail party ...more
Nov 25, 2015 Scotty rated it really liked it
If you were a Christian and at some point but stopped being a Christian, then fucking read this book you god damned dissenter. It will stop you from hating yourself so much for disbelieving the bible... And yet allow you to still sorta love the bible.... Imagine that!
Jan 29, 2011 Annie rated it it was amazing
Shelves: books-i-own
If you are interested in how the bible got to be written, non-theologically, this is a wonderful, fascinating, beautifully written book.
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[From book The United States and Ireland (1973):]

Donald Harman Akenson teaches history at Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario. He was born in Minneapolis, took his degrees at Yale and Harvard, and taught and held administrative positions at both of those universities. He is the author of The Irish Education Experiment (1970); The Church of Ireland (1971); and Education and Enmity: The Control
More about Donald Harman Akenson...

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