World Perfect

World Perfect by Ken Spiro
The Jewish Impact on Civilization

This is a good read that contrasts the workings of ethical monotheism and the major civilizations/philosophies of history. Of particular interest to me were details of the dark side of Greek and Roman life. This is interesting to me because of the mission of the church and the ethical content of Paul's writings. The church, like the Jewish people, is to be a "light to the nations."

It was also interesting to read of the culture of Canaan and the Levant in the post-Exodus years. Understanding the setting for the Torah helps to make sense of some of the laws that we think are obscure, ridiculous, or even mean-spirited. Anyone that gets stuck in Leviticus and/or Deuteronomy should read "Part I - Where the Quality of Mercy Was Not Strained: The World of Greece and Rome" and "Part II - Against the Grain: The Jewish View." There is a stark contrast between a "culture of death" and a "culture of life."

If I had one complaint against this book, it is its failure to mention the life and teachings of Jesus, the most profound and controversial figure of the Jews. The author goes to great lengths to tell of the failings of the church, of which there are many...but neglects Christ as if he were never around.

Another good read on this topic is "The Gift of the Jews" by Thomas Cahill.

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