A fascinating book Nov 15, 2008
Cahill's "Hinges of Civilization" series addresses the intriguing issue of what special "gifts" particular people, places and times have given to the advancement of civilization. The first volume, "How the Irish Saved Civilization," tells the little-known story of how Irish Christians saved ancient languages, culture, writings and attitudes towards culture during the European Dark Ages. This second book examines the story of the Old Testament to determine how the Jews changed the way in which people, through their religion, saw themselves and society.
The book is a fascinating read, and it puts together many insights into the Old Testament in a way that has newer been done before. Cahill acknowledges the problems with the Old Testament as a historical document, but he still teases out from its contens some interesting conclusions that do not seem to depend on any definitive resolution of the disputes over the source document.
I would give the book five stars but for the fact that it is a bit too overtly theistic to appeal to everyone. Still, I would say that the analysis of the changes in the world-view of the Jews reflected in the Bible is worth reading even for someone who does not find a Biblical God necessary to his or her life.