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Joseph and the Way of Forgiveness: A Biblical Tale Retold

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4.18  ·  Rating details ·  67 ratings  ·  14 reviews
"A unique and special kind of masterpiece." --John Banville

Stephen Mitchell's gift is to breathe new life into ancient classics. In Joseph and the Way of Forgiveness, he offers us his riveting novelistic version of the Biblical tale in which Jacob's favorite son is sold into slavery and eventually becomes viceroy of Egypt. Tolstoy called it the most beautiful story in the
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Hardcover, 272 pages
Published September 17th 2019 by St. Martin's Essentials
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Ted I think maybe the problem is that if we think about a personal God with human characteristics who predestines and directs human suffering, then that…moreI think maybe the problem is that if we think about a personal God with human characteristics who predestines and directs human suffering, then that God becomes a monster, and it's hard to see how anyone would ever want that. But if we instead see God as an intelligence that runs through all things (like Dylan Thomas's "force that through the green fuse drives the flower," or Jung's collective unconscious), then even through suffering, we are able to find meaning. Mitchell says in the book that the past can only be the way it was, but the future is still filled with infinite possibility, which negates the idea of predestination, and simply says that the intelligence in the universe is wiser than everything we can possibly know, and so it is worth learning to trust. And this does not mean letting go of our critical faculties (which are essential) but simply understanding their limits.

So much of the Bible and religion is infuriating if we see God with personal, human characteristics, and unfortunately, that is the way most religions paint it. But a little shift in the other direction can help us see the story in a different light.

Maybe that helps?(less)
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Darwin8u
Feb 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing
It is hard to capture what this book is. Essentially, it is Mitchell taking his poetic talents, his Jewish and Zen sensibilities, the story of Joseph in the Book of Genesis and not quite reinventing it, but retelling it both as a poet and almost as a Zen Midrash. He jumps into the text and invites the reader to swim in it and experience it with slightly different eyes. I'm not sure if I loved it so much because it aligns a bit with my own sensibilities (I joke that I'm an Agnostic Zen Mormon) or ...more
Ted
Nov 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Every time I read a book by Stephen Mitchell, I know I am in for some deep soul searching. That is certainly the case here.

I taught a course in the Bible as Literature for many years, and so I know the story of Joseph extremely well, but this book will be crystal clear even to those who have never read it. What Mitchell offers is his own midrash, an ancient method of unpacking the stories of the Bible, since many of them are are so skeletal and obscure. This midrash is essential, but sometimes
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Carol Painter
Oct 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
More than any other Stephen Mitchell book I have read, this one has left me again knowing what a gifted writer/storyteller he is, but also, knowing how much he can disturb my thinking/beliefs. That is not a negative. That is why I will undoubtedly reread this book (as I have reread his others) and also why I will continue to challenge that any single religious/spiritual belief system is "the answer".
Most likely, especially because of the times in which we live, to hear that "God's will" is
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Rachel
Dec 15, 2019 rated it liked it
I’m always fascinated to discover new interpretations of biblical tales. One source of inspiration has been comments made by members of a study group or class I’m teaching. Other new ideas have been found in some traditional formats: books of essays about the parasha or d’var Torah columns in newspapers or online. Unless an interpretation plainly contradicts the facts of the biblical verse, it’s difficult to say it’s wrong. That’s because the text leaves so much to the imagination, in ...more
Barbara
Oct 22, 2019 rated it liked it
I read this because I wanted to see an author's take on the Joseph story. I got that, but it came with a sort of New Age-ish, preachy-like tone. I did appreciate this at the very end:

"For God, it is all very good, as He said on the sixth day of Creation. Joseph knew that the mind finds its proper balance in that sixth-day awareness. From it, the mind moves into its Sabbath, the peace that passes all understanding."

"Sixth-day awareness," I like that. The idea that all mistakes, errors, missteps
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Jo
Feb 04, 2020 rated it really liked it
Not one I would recommend for everyone, but I really enjoyed this 'midrash' of the story of Joseph. It was some interesting insight - and the idea of simply allowing all to be without the need to judge it as good or bad - rather accept and move forward thus allowing the need for forgiveness to almost disappear. - For the reason for needing to forgive is gone for the bigger understanding allows us to not worry about the perceived slight.

Interesting view - and one with some deep ramifications.
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Jackie
Nov 27, 2019 added it
I can't even give this one star. It wasn't a did not finish but a could not finish. Mr. Mitchell can certainly write with flair. Even with his skill as a writer I won't be ever reading anything by this author again. Surely a re-telling of a Bible story could be done without objectionable language?
Ruthann
Jan 12, 2020 rated it really liked it
A fast and fun read after just having studied Genesis. A few points altered from Biblical text- like saying Dinah wasn’t raped and her brothers avenging her by murdering a town recovering from circumcising was hearsay and gossip.
Overall, an insightful novel on the story of Joseph and his relationships
Clark Harris
Feb 17, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: self-growth
This was a great spin on a classic tale. The narrative was more playful while still focusing on the powerful themes of forgiveness of spiritual growth. At times it was a bit too informal and that took away for me.

The chapters are very short so it's an easy book to read in short sittings.
Pam
Oct 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
This was a thought provoking book which I value reading.
Victot Vito
Jan 25, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
There’s nothing to forgive

True forgiveness is knowing there’s nothing to forgive. Everything happened as it should according to the greater plan that we know nothing of.
Kent
Feb 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excellent

Thought provoking and emotional. A Wonderful meditation on forgiveness and relationships throughout life. Definitely worth a careful and slow read.
Elizabeth
Jan 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Love the imaginative retelling of Joseph infused with Buddhist ideas.
Debi Crawford-Poyner
I am already in love with this book at page 68 of 249 pages!
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Stephen Mitchell was educated at Amherst College, the Sorbonne, and Yale University, and de-educated through intensive Zen practice. He is widely known for his ability to make old classics thrillingly new, to step in where many have tried before and to create versions that are definitive for our time. His many books include The Gospel According to Jesus, The Second Book of the Tao, two books of ...more