3 out of 4 stars
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The Biblical Clock by Daniel Friedmann and Dania Sheldon is an odyssey through history, science and religion as the author explores various theories regarding the creation of this world and its eventual end. In general, the book follows the author’s individual journey through the myriad theories available and attempts to reconcile the differences between the biblical record in Genesis and current scientific observations. During the first half of the book, chapters begin with some short context for the individual they study. They continue by explaining the significance of that individual’s theory in relation to the creation story. The second half of the book uses those theories and data to develop a plausible theory for the coming of the Messiah and the subsequent end of the world. The book includes pertinent maps, appendices, and a glossary that are critical for understanding its theories.
What I truly liked the most about this book was its subject matter: the link between science and religion. This subject is of personal importance to me and I appreciate the author’s thorough research. It is clear that the author is passionate about this subject. The information that was presented in this book was new and understandable, incorporating different theories from Judaism, Christianity, Science, and various other schools of thought. I was able to see how the author’s own theories about the creation of the world were developed as they were met with challenges, re-analyzed, and then ultimately re-worked by new solutions. I also appreciated the historical background that the author used to introduce the theorists, scientists, and rabbis that are the foundation for this book.
The portions of this book that I disliked most were simply those that required constant referral to the glossary in order to understand. It would have been better if my eBook reader had links to take me straight to the glossary and back again, but it didn’t. This made reading the book very choppy as I had to stop every other page to refer back to the glossary. This problem could have been more easily resolved had the author incorporated more of the glossary’s explanations into the text itself. Then, when readers needed to refresh their memory for subsequent mentions, there would not have been as much constant referral to the back of the book. The organization of the book could also have been improved. It would have made more sense if it had started with the author’s first exposure to the subject matter and his growing interest in it, then explained his very first thoughts and theories, ultimately following his research journey as he developed newer theories. Instead, the book starts somewhere in ancient Israel with no foundation for scientific or religious understanding clearly stated.
Accordingly, this book is most suited to a group of readers who have--at the least--a superficial understanding of Jewish history, culture, and the Bible. Some Jewish terms or ideas are described in the text, but most are not and the history that is explained is very brief, leaving the unfamiliar reader with a lot of holes to fill in. Thus, this book would be most enjoyed by those who have an interest in both science and religion and have a decent background in Judaism.
This book is an excellent discussion on the coexistence of science and religion. It incorporates valid theories that confirm the relationship and offers potential solutions to theories and observations that contradict it. The vision presented in this book is intriguing, original, and persuasive. If not for the organizational and technical issues, it would be an excellent work. It is for this reason that I give The Biblical Clock a rating of 3 out of 4 stars.
The Biblical Clock
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