Review from
CHOICE  April 2005

42-4607 BM530 2003-22934 CIP Schwartz, Howard. Tree of souls: the mythology of Judaism. Oxford, 2004. 618p bibl indexes afp ISBN 0195086791, $50.00 

 Schwartz (English, Univ. of Missouri) offers a charming, illuminating book that will appeal to a wide range of readers. For a long time, scholars argued that Judaism lacked mythology; indeed they claimed that Judaism represented a dramatic break with earlier, more myth-based religions. Underlying this view was a negative evaluation of myths as both primitive and fundamentally untrue. In recent years, however, scholars have sought to over-turn this position by revealing the rich mythological tradition within Judaism and by redefining the category of myth itself in more sophisticated and positive terms. Building on this scholarship, Schwartz has produced a hook that is both accessible and engaging. It is also thorough. Though no single volume could ever reproduce all the myths in Judaism, Tree of Souls contains a remarkably rich collection of traditions, helpfully organized according to a number of overarching themes, including myths of God, creation, heaven, hell, and so on. These sections are further subdivided into even more specific categories such as the Garden of Eden, the Messiah, the Sabbath, the Torah, and many more. In short, there is something for every-one here. Summing Up: Recommended. All levels.-N. R. Deutsch, Swarthmore Collage.