The Gifts of the Jews is the most recent exploration of the historical foundations of Western civilization from Thomas Cahill, author of the bestselling How the Irish Saved Civilization. The second book in "The Hinges of History" series, The Gifts of the Jews extends Cahill's scope back to the dawn of recorded history and across a broader geographical plain. The premise is simple but bold: to show how the religious, moral, philosophical, and political systems developed by the Jews -- descendants and followers of Abraham, Moses, Joshua, Saul, and David -- profoundly shaped the world we know today. Concepts as basic as personal freedom and charity derive from their adaptations to and interpretations of their experiences. To anyone with even a basic knowledge of Western history it is clear that Judaism influenced Christianity and Islam. And it is equally clear that these three great religions (or, if you prefer, societies) formed, over centuries, the central tenets of European thought. But to have a historian as skilled at narrative and thematic synthesis as Cahill take a reader back to the beginning of these thoughts and walk through the very first expressions of free will, or a relationship with a singular god greater than the sum of the earth, or an innate responsibility to care for the weak and poor, provides a depth of understanding of the Western tradition more accessible than most scholarship or philosophy permits.
Thomas Cahill places the spiritual journey of biblical-era Jewry firmly in a historical context while simultaneously making it come alive in a way that is almost sensory in its immediacy. Jewish Journal