Book Release: And God Spoke These Words: The Ten Commandments and Contemporary Ethics by Rabbi Rifat Sonsino

Contact: Annette Powers



March 3, 2014, New York, NY — Rabbi Rifat Sonsino has helped thousands of readers find God, and uncover the truths and legends behind the foundational myths of Judaism. Now, his new book by URJ Press explores one of the best known–and least understood–texts in the Bible: the Ten Commandments.
The Ten Commandments loom large as ethical and moral guideposts in the Western world. These statutes have informed much of Judaism and Christianity over the past 2,000 years, and stand at the center of many modern legal and political debates. However, attention to the remarkable and well-established influence of these words often glosses over the actual text and context of the biblical sources themselves.

In And God Spoke These Words: The Ten Commandments and Contemporary Ethics, Rabbi Sonsino draws on commentators from Maimonides to Mel Brooks to explore how the Ten Commandments have been interpreted–and misinterpreted–for generations. He examines the religious and legal texts of the Israelites’ neighbors in the Ancient Near East, surveys centuries of Rabbinic commentary, and engages with contemporary secular and Jewish thought. Sonsino’s thorough contextualization and discussion of the Decalogue provide the reader with an understanding of where these iconic commands originate, how they have been understood by Jews throughout the ages, and what moral direction they can still provide in the 21st century.

“We are proud to release this new work from such an esteemed scholar as Rabbi Sonsino,” said URJ Senior Vice President Rabbi Daniel Freelander, “This book will be a welcome addition to the shelves of all Judeo-Christian and ethics scholars as well as any reader who is fascinated by philosophy, morality and mythology.”

Title: And God Spoke These Words: The Ten Commandments and Contemporary Ethics

Author: Rifat Sonsino

Binding: Paperback

Pages: 225

Age Range: Adult

Categories: Judaism

ISBN: 978-0-8074-1233-6 Item Number: 405600 Price: $16.95

ISBN e-book: 978-0-8074-1346-3 Item Number: 700041 Price: $12.99

Release Date

November 2013

140 Character Review

And God Spoke These Words: The Ten Commandments and Contemporary Ethics explores one of the best known and least understood texts ever.

About the Author

Rabbi Rifat Sonsino, PhD, is Rabbi Emeritus of Temple Beth Shalom in Needham, Massachusetts, and adjunct professor of theology at Boston College. Born in Turkey, he received his law degree from the University of Istanbul, his rabbinic ordination from the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, and his doctorate in Bible and Ancient Near Eastern studies from the University of Pennsylvania. Rabbi Sonsino is the author of numerous books and articles, including Did Moses Really Have Horns?, Finding God, What Happens after I Die? (both with Daniel Syme), and The Many Faces of God.

About URJ Press

URJ Press is the book publishing arm of URJ Books and Music, an independent publisher of books and music of Jewish interest and the official publisher of the Union for Reform Judaism. URJ Books and Music produces textbooks, program guides, children’s books, non-fiction titles, songbooks, CDs, e-books, MP3s and other digital content used in religious schools, day schools, synagogues, and homes throughout the Reform community and the larger Jewish world.

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