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The Genesis of Justice: Ten Stories of Biblical Injustice that Led to the Ten Commandments and Modern Morality and Law

The Genesis of Justice: Ten Stories of Biblical Injustice that Led to the Ten Commandments and Modern Morality and Law
Author: Alan M. Dershowitz
ISBN 13: 9780446524797
ISBN 10: 446524794
Edition: First Edition
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Publication Date: 2000-03-01
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 288
List Price: $28.99

Cain murders his brother--and walks . . . God gets angry--and millions die in flood . . . Abraham commits attempted murder--and is praised . . . Jacob deceives his father, then robs his brother--and gets away with it . . .Who among us has not questioned the "justice" found in the Book of Genesis? Now Alan M. Dershowitz, one of our most brilliant legal minds and author of the #1 New York Times bestseller Chutzpah , casts new light on these ancient tales. What he finds is . . . THE GENESIS OF JUSTICE Violence, lust, deception, murder, incest, and vengeance: These are the subjects of the biggest--and perhaps the juiciest--bestseller of all time, the Book of Genesis. Its oft-told tales have inspired and challenged humankind for generations. But perhaps never before has anyone examined these stories so provocatively from a modern legal perspective. Based on Alan Dershowitz's class at Harvard Law School, The Genesis of Justice shows how the Good Book is also a remarkable law book. According to Dershowitz, these seminal stories describe a people--and a God--struggling in a world before the invention of systematic rules, a primal place that predates our notions of fairness, honesty, and rights. Yet here in Genesis we can see these concepts--and the need for them and for their embodiment in a formal legal system--evolving in front of our eyes. Using ten of the most intriguing biblical narratives and drawing on not only his own observations but those of biblical commentators throughout the ages, Dershowitz evaluates the actions of biblical heroes, even God Himself. And together with concluding discussions on "The Injustice of Genesis," he shows us how theflawed behavior of its flawed protagonists led to the Ten Commandments and a deeper, richer sense of justice than any mere legal code could ever provide. From the time he was a kid--and was nearly tossed out of Hebrew school for asking one pesky question after another--

Publishers Weekly

A Harvard Law School faculty member since 1964, Dershowitz is noted for representing controversial and unpopular clients. In addition to tomes on the law and two novels, he wrote a 1987 book prescribing a remedy to save American Jews (The Vanishing American Jew). In this further demonstration of his versatility, he turns to 10 stories from Genesis to demonstrate how the Bible provides a basis for contemporary ideas about justice and injustice. The narratives deal with Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel, Abraham, Lot, Jacob, Dina, Tamar and Joseph. Dershowitz includes a translation of each story, recounts some theological commentaries and offers his own interpretations. He acknowledges the failings of the biblical characters, pointing out that they were guilty of deception, lust, crime, incest, revenge and murder. Their problematic actions highlighted the need for the laws that appear later in the Torah, starting with Exodus and the Ten Commandments. The book concludes with four chapters on "The Genesis of Justice in the Injustice of Genesis." Dershowitz argues that the "bad actions" depicted in Genesis gave rise to the "common law of justice." He addresses the question of theodicy, claiming that the belief in the hereafter solves the problem of why evil exists on earth. Finally, he asserts that the stories he has examined explain the need for judicial codes. The book makes an important contribution by clearly validating this claim, although Dershowitz disregards the stories' significance as a basis for moral and ethical development. (Mar.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.|