- Book Notes
American Jewish Life
California Jews from the Gold Rush to the Present, edited by Ava F. Kahn and Marc Dollinger. Hanover: University Press of New England (Brandeis University Press), 2003. 196 pp. $34.95. ISBN 1-58465-060-5.
California Jews is a presentation of Jewish life, history, and culture in California that explores relations with other ethnic groups, social change, innovations, demography, and community history. Essays discuss Jews and the Gold Rush, synagogue architecture, Latino-Jewish relations in Los Angeles, the Jewish community of Venice, kibbutzniks in San Fernando, Hollywood’s Jewish organizational leadership, the Jewish response to the Japanese incarceration during World War II, post-war affiliations between Jews and Catholics in the Bay area, San Diego Jewish life and its connection to San Diego State University, Jewish women’s activism, the California counterculture, and the Brandeis Camp Institute.
Mordecai: An Early American Family, by Emily Bingham. New York: Hill and Wang, 2003. 346 pp. $26.00. ISBN 0-8090-2756-9.
The story of a Southern Jewish family in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries and their assimilation into U.S. society.
Ancient World and Archaeology
Archaeological Encyclopedia of the Holy Land, edited by Avraham Negev and Shimon Gibson. New York: Continuum, 2003. 512 pp. $29.95. ISBN 0-8264-1527-X.
More than 800 entries describe archaeological discoveries by site and detail life in the biblical period. Includes 285 illustrations, maps, photographs, charts, tables, and glossary.
The Hebrew Pharaohs of Egypt: The Secret Lineage of the Patriarch Joseph, by Ahmed Osman. Rochester, VT: Bear & Co., 2003. 166 pp. $16.00. ISBN 1-59143-022-4.
Ahmed Osman explores the possibility that Yuya, a vizier of Pharaoh Tuthmosis IV buried in the Valley of the Kings, was the same person as the biblical Joseph.
Time and Process in Ancient Judaism, by Sacha Stern. Portland: Littman Library of Jewish Civilization, 2003. 144 pp. $29.50. ISBN 1-874774-95-1.
This study is about the absence of time as an entity in itself in ancient Judaism, and the predominance instead of process in the ancient Jewish worldview. Evidence is drawn from Jewish sources from this period: mainly early rabbinic literature, but [End Page 187] also Jewish Hellenistic literature, Qumran sources, Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha, and inscriptions. The author shows that although timing was central to early rabbinic halakhah, it was not conceived of as a measuring of the time dimension, but rather as a way of coordinating different processes. The calendar, likewise, was not a measurement of time but an astronomical scheme, and therefore only process-related.
Biblical and Rabbinic Literature
The Beginning of Wisdom: Reading Genesis, by Leon R. Kass. New York: Free Press, 2003. 700 pp. $35.00. ISBN 0-7432-4299-8.
The first section of this book shows how the universal history described in the first eleven chapters of Genesis conveys a portrait of human nature and relationships, with their problematic character of reason, speech, freedom, sexual desire, the love of the beautiful, shame, guilt, anger, and death. The second half examines the origins of the covenantal way of life of the Abrahamic faiths, seen as an attempt to found a community responsive to both the promises and the perils of the human creature that came to light in the first part of Genesis. The author shows that Genesis is governed throughout by the question of how one can lead a good life.
Deuteronomy and the Meaning of ‘Monotheism,’ by Nathan MacDonald. Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2003. 271 pp. Euro 50.00. ISBN 3-16-148054-6.
Nathan MacDonald examines the term “monotheism” and its appropriateness as a category for analyzing the Old Testament. He traces the use of the term since its coinage in 1660 and argues that its use in Old Testament scholarship frequently reflects a narrowed, intellectualistic conception of religion. A detailed exegesis of Deuteronomy’s portrayal of YHWH’s oneness and uniqueness reveals a different conception. Themes such as love towards YHWH, the demanding nature of remembering YHWH, and the problem of Israel’s propensity for idolatry give content to the confessions that “YHWH is one” and “there is no other” in a way to which modern scholarship has not...