HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW
Book: The Beast That Crouches at the Door: Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel, and Beyond
Author: David Fohrman
Publisher: HFBS Publishing, republished in 2012
Language level: 1
(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing and/or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing and/or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)
Recommended reading level: For adults
Rating: *** 3 stars (FAIR)
Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker
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Fohrman, David. The Beast That Crouches at the Door: Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel, and Beyond (published in 2007 by Devora Publishing Company, New York City, NY). A number of years ago, when I was doing children’s book reviews for an online magazine known as Stories for Children, this book was sent to me, along with two children’s books from the same publisher. Since it was not a children’s book, I laid it aside then and just recently found time to read it. Author David Fohrman is a Jewish Rabbi who lectures internationally on Biblical themes, heads the Curriculum Initiative of the Areivim Philanthropic Group, has taught Biblical themes at the Johns Hopkins University, and directs the Hoffberger Institute for Text Study. The Beast That Crouches at the Door, which was a finalist for the 2007 National Jewish Book Award, examines the two earliest stories in the Book of Genesis, those of Adam and Eve and of Cain and Abel. Fohrman calls attention to a few questions that seem to bother some people, and using supposedly hidden subtleties of text and language as clues, he finds deeper layers of meaning.
The main positive thing that I can say about the book is that the author seems to believe that the stories in Genesis are true. A large number of theologians from varying backgrounds give lip service to these Genesis accounts but do not really believe that they are actually historical events. Many of Fohrman’s conclusions seem sound, even if he does sometimes take a rather tortuous route to reach them. However, others are merely philosophical speculation. And much of his argumentation is based on Jewish tradition, Rabbinical commentary, the Hebrew Sages, and to a degree his own opinion. A word that he often uses is “Maybe….” For people who are eagerly interested in reading a Jewish view of Adam and Eve and Cain and Abel, this book might be useful. In fact, one reviewer said that it presents “concepts that define the core of what it means to be a Jew.” However, for most other people, it would probably be somewhat puzzling and even a bit boring.