Tree of Souls: The Mythology of Judaism
Cooper, Ilene
219 words
1 October 2004
Volume 101; Issue 3; ISSN: 00067385
Copyright (c) 2004 Bell & Howell Information and Learning Company. All
rights reserved.
Schwartz, Howard. Tree of Souls: The Mythology of Judaism. Nov. 2004.
586p. illus. index. Oxford, $45 (0-19-508679-1). 296.1.

Schwartz notes in his impressive introduction that some may be
surprised at the idea of a Jewish mythology since Judaism is a
monotheistic religion, meaning there can be no interaction among
multiple gods, one of the hallmarks of mythology. Yet the Bible,
Schwartz notes, is written so compactly that there is plenty of room
for interpretation, and out of interpretation, mythology flowers.
Drawing from the Bible, from the Talmud and Midrash, and from
kabbalistic literature and medieval folklore, Schwartz explicates
nearly 700 Jewish myths organized around broad themes such as myths of
creation, heaven, and the Messiah. Some are familiar, such as the
stories about Adam's first wife, Lilith, but most are not well known,
although they are linked directly to biblical stories. For instance,
one section begins with the Genesis story of Cain and Abel and then
follows with myths about various aspects of the brothers' lives. Going
beyond the mythologies, Schwartz provides a wealth of supplementary
information including sources and other world myths. This remarkable
work will be of interest to both the scholar and the browser. -Ilene
Copyright Booklist Publications Oct 1, 2004

TREE OF SOULS: The Mythology of Judaism
By Howard Schwartz
OUP hardcover $50.00; 592 pp.; 0195086791
Publication Date:  September 2004

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Oxford University Press, Trade Division
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