October “Book Review” and Give-Away: As it is Written: A Brief Case For Karaism

As it is Written I guess I can’t exactly do an objective book review here, since I am a co-author of As it is Written: A Brief Case for Karaism. As I mentioned previously, I tend to follow the Israeli saying that roughly translates to, “A baker should not comment on his own work.”

So instead of my telling you how awesome As it is Written is, I’ll let this Amazon review do all the talking for me: “Not very well written, short, and does not go in depth into explaining Karaite Judaism. It is a short, basic review.”

Well, you can’t win ’em all. But other Amazon reviewers found the book to be helpful: “Finally, a clear, concise, and long overdue introduction to Karaism that caters for the layperson and the student.”

A little background on the book might be helpful. When I was a freshman in college at the University of California, San Diego, my roommate sponsored a talk by Jews for Judaism, whose central purpose was (and is) to give Jews the proper knowledge base to respond to missionaries from other religions. One of Jews for Judaism’s educational pamphlets at the time contained a footnote that stated (something to the effect of), “People accuse the Rabbis of making up their own laws. This is not true.”

This one footnote changed my life. Although Jews for Judaism did not intend it as such, I felt that the footnote was a direct attack on Karaites, who do not believe in the authority of the rabbis to enact “mitzvot d’rabbanan” (or “commandments of the Rabbis”). The footnote inspired me to learn more and more about Karaite Judaism and I somehow ended up in an online Karaite forum with Nehemia Gordon and Meir Rekhavi.

A few years later, we (with a shout out to the late Mordecai Alfandari!) wrote As it is Written. The work draws on various of their writings and on Nehemia’s and Meir’s responses to questions in the online forum. I structured the work after the Jews for Judaism pamphlet and sought to give Karaites the tools to respond to various anti-Karaite polemics. In that regard, the aim of As it is Written was exactly what its subtitle suggests, a short defense of Karaite Judaism.

Of course, over the years, I came to learn that whether or not someone believes in in the Oral Law is mostly a matter of faith – and almost no amount of proof-texts will change that core belief. And I’ve also learned just how many Jews are interested in Karaite Judaism. As I’ve matured, I realized these Jews (including historical Karaites) needed a positive Karaite resource and that Karaite Judaism would never survive if it was simply an “anti-Rabbinic” movement.

That is one of the reasons why I work very hard to keep A Blue Thread from being the latest in the line of Karaite-Rabbanite polemics. So, whenever I write my next book (and I like to think that I’ve become a better writer since my first one!), I plan to focus on the Karaite Jewish experience – rather than why Karaites are “right.”

Until then, I hope you enjoy A Blue Thread and As it is Written. And from October 2, 2013-October 6, 2013 (inclusive), you can get free ebook copy of As it is Written: A Brief Case for Karaism from the Amazon Kindle Store.

*  *  *

A Blue Thread is giving away 15 print copies of As it is Written.  A Blue Thread will even cover the shipping. To be eligible for the give-away, simply comment on the post below. Your comment could be anything from “Choose me!” to “I love this book.” I’ll hold a random drawing on October 9th, and will notify the winners via email. My only hope is that after you read the book, you will post your thoughts to the comment section below. (If you’ve already read the book, feel free to do so now.)

If you miss out on this give-away, fear not. You can purchase the book from Amazon.  And we intend to do a similar give-away with another book next month.

Disclaimer: I have not received (and have never sought) any royalties from As it is Written.


Filed under Book Club, Books, What is Karaite Judaism

105 responses to “October “Book Review” and Give-Away: As it is Written: A Brief Case For Karaism

  1. I received this book and my hubby and I are really enjoying it. We are slow readers. I don’t need entered, but I have a question. Can we post discussions/questions from that book here?

  2. TrueBlue

    I’m wondering if there is a way to get an electronic copy without going through Amazon ? I don’t use a kindle but my reader will accept that format, unfortunately I don’t feel like handing my credit card information to Amazon…not after the lasttime. Is there a way to put a download on this site for however long you intend to make the book free ? Not that I’m trying tos top you from making a return on your work, of course. I just don’t feel like giving Amazon a return on it 😉

  3. DavidbenOmri

    I have enjoyed and been blessed by Nehemiah’s writings this past year along with his co- writing with Keith Johnson and have learned a lot from the Karaite perspective of Torah only based Biblical obedience. Very thought provoking challenges to traditions of men.

  4. Nancy Hodges

    Hope to obtain a copy of A BLUE THREAD because of my interest in the way the Karaites determine the months and the feast days, The Karaites seem to determine the seasons as it was intended, So glad it was written, May Yahweh richly bless you

  5. hugs for you all, love the book. I particularly like how you back everything up with scripture quotes and explain the reasoning behind your arguments.
    Keep up the good work. May God bless you and yours and your hard work.

  6. Johan Marais

    I would love to read the book, but unfortunately the mail was sent on friday and as I receive these mails at work, only read (Monday morning) about the free download offer after it expired. I did however download the book, but it is a ‘sample’.

  7. Kate

    I’d love a copy of this as I think it’s incredibly valuable to hear about Karaite Judaism from a subjective, personal perspective. Reading about Karaites in texts written by non-Karaites is informative, of course, but it doesn’t give the same insight into what it really means to be a Karaite.

  8. gerson gutierrez

    Pudiera el Caraísmo rescatar y explicar el calendario Esenio ?

  9. Jo

    I don’t blog. How can I enter?

  10. Jerry

    Finally a book that will expand on the Karaites and focus on the razer edge between them and traditional Judaism, Giving some insites on exectly where Judaism deviates from the written texts to move to the Rabbanic authority. this will broaden the understanding of the ‘colorfull lanscape’ of jewish faith and hopefully turn our attention back to the scriputers as the inspired work(s) of Elohim.

  11. I got a copy of “As it is written” yesterday and read it completely in one sitting. Not only because it is quite concise, but because it is very Interesting, informative and well written. Amazing how such a short book could pack in so fun insight!
    Congratulations to the Authors.

  12. Eliyahu

    Although I’m not a Karaite Jew I would like to learn a more about Karaites and it’s seems to me that this book is a right thing for that.

    Shalom from Bosnia

  13. Linda Versyp

    First I need to thank you for the free book for Kindle. The more I read and understand about the Karaites, the more I feel like I’m in agreement with them in almost every aspect. There is so much “tradition” today in Judaism that is not found in scripture. As you so clearly stated: Nothing was to be added or taken away from the Torah and clearly so much has been added to and “adjusted.” Thanks again so very much for the information and the insights. Shalom from Hawley

    • Hi Linda, tradition is a beautiful and wonderful thing. There are even examples in the bible of people taking events and developing customs around them. The issue is when people turn tradition into a commandment.

  14. Ryan

    Rabbis arent supposed to interpret scripture, the judges are supposed to. Its not supposed to be an individual thing. Theres a tribe that has the job of deciding and making judgements. Life and death calls.

    • Karaites agree that it is not “supposed to be an individual thing” but we are supposed to have judges. We do not. So Karaites think that individual interpretation is the next best thing.

    • That might be oversimplified Ryan. Moses speaks of the possibility judgement may or may not be from the Levitical priesthood (Deut 17:8-12), but the judges only need to function if a case is too hard for the individuals to decide. (Deut17:8) Easy cases can be resolved locally, or even individually.

      • Thomas Winchester

        Elders are judges, and there is a hierarchy based on difficulty of the judgement and/or social unit size that is involved. It could be said in some sense I suppose that judges interpret Torah, but more accurately I would say instead that they apply the principles of Torah and the unwritten Natural Law.
        Thomas Jefferson understood this when he suggested the Great Seal of the U.S. should be Mosheh on one side (representing Torah) and the Saxon chiefs Hengist and Horsa on the opposite side (representing the ‘unwritten’ Natural Law),
        Yes there is unwritten Natural Law, that could perhaps be called an oral Torah, but is as far removed from the oral torah of the Pharisees as the north is from the south.
        This has nothing to do with priests; Aaron was the Great Priest, but Moshe was the chief judge. Every individual is responsible to himself for the interpretation of Torah. Priest are to serve in the temple system, and, before mass printing to preserve the written word.

  15. Thomas Winchester

    There is no Messiah or any other such thing other than Yahuweh; and He is echad (one)! Only by using the occult art of hermeneutics (etymologically linked to the god hermes) do people come up with the bizarre concept of a man, or man/god, savior. This was started by the Essenes who were influenced in their Babylonian captivity by Zoroastrianism; and infamously continued from them by the Pharisees (modern Judaism) and Christians. Nobody reading the lines of Torah as a literal narrative can see otherwise. Read any other way you can make up whatever you want, and that is why there are so many religious sects and denominations.

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