Recently I had a chance to take a quick read of a new book called The Torah by Joel S. Kaminsky and Joel N. Lohr in Oneworld publisher’s “Beginners Guides” (2011). The book receives high praise with endorsements by Terence Fretheim, Ellen Davis, Walter Brueggemann, John Collins, and Matthew Levering.
(1) It is short. It is less than 200 pages and introduces the Torah succintly for non-specialists.
(2) It is written for the unitiated. Clearly the two Joel’s have thought a lot about how to break down dense theological and religious terms and ideas into language that makes sense to beginners. A helpful glossary appears in the appendix.
(3) One author is Christian, the other is Jewish. Co-authoring is very challenging. However, in this case, one can easily see the fruit because they can offer two perspectives on the Torah. Neither perspective is treated coldly or harshly. Both approach the Torah from a gracious and winsome perspective.
If a student asked me for a very basic introduction to the Torah, I would not hesitate to hand them this book. And I would ask for it back!