With All Thine Heart: Love and the Bible

Ilan Sta­vans with Morde­cai Drache
  • Review
By – October 10, 2011

This book is the writ­ten tran­scrip­tion of a lengthy con­ver­sa­tion between the Hebrew philol­o­gist and schol­ar Ilan Sta­vans and Morde­cai Drache, con­tribut­ing edi­tor to Zeek Mag­a­zine. The con­ver­sa­tion took place over a peri­od of more than a year via e‑mail and tele­phone and has now been pre­sent­ed as a live­ly dis­cus­sion of var­i­ous themes in the Hebrew Bible. The para­me­ters of the top­ics are laid out in the begin­ning and rather dis­ap­point­ing­ly the Hebrew trans­la­tion cho­sen is the King James ver­sion of the bible. Giv­en how many oth­er trans­la­tions are avail­able which more close­ly mir­ror the orig­i­nal Hebrew, one won­ders, why this choice? Dur­ing the read­ing of this book one will want to have a copy of the text close by to join the argu­ment on the mean­ings of the ancient bib­li­cal stories. 

While the con­ver­sa­tion does fol­low a log­i­cal path from B’reshit to Job, the path is a mean­der­ing jour­ney incor­po­rat­ing the ideas of lit­er­a­ture, art, and cul­ture into the inter­pre­ta­tion of the text. The authors jump around from dis­ci­pline to dis­ci­pline in their quest to both draw out mean­ing and make the text rel­e­vant to con­tem­po­rary soci­ety. While the con­ver­sa­tions are inter­est­ing and one can learn much from them, over­all the book does not present a coher­ent analy­sis of the sto­ries and the his­tor­i­cal con­text of ancient soci­ety. But read in small sec­tions one can gain some knowl­edge and insight into spe­cif­ic pas­sages of the Bible.

Bar­bara Andrews holds a Mas­ters in Jew­ish Stud­ies from the Uni­ver­si­ty of Chica­go, has been an adult Jew­ish edu­ca­tion instruc­tor, and works in the cor­po­rate world as a pro­fes­sion­al adult educator.

Discussion Questions