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As a Driven Leaf
     

As a Driven Leaf

4.0 1
by Milton Steinberg, George Guidall (Read by)
 
The story, written in 1940, follows the life of Elisha, an orphan boy who becomes a rabbi. Despite the assaults of the Roman Empire and the lures of pagan luxuries, Elisha and his companions try to preserve the traditions of Judaism. Then Elisha's own faith is plunged into doubt when tragedy strikes. He leaves his home to become part of the intellectual society of

Overview

The story, written in 1940, follows the life of Elisha, an orphan boy who becomes a rabbi. Despite the assaults of the Roman Empire and the lures of pagan luxuries, Elisha and his companions try to preserve the traditions of Judaism. Then Elisha's own faith is plunged into doubt when tragedy strikes. He leaves his home to become part of the intellectual society of Rome, but the city has tired radical Jews, and are killing and enslaving thousands. Thinking he can help, Elisha becomes a Roman advisor--only to be forced to witness the torture, He is finally broken.

Editorial Reviews

Joe Stafford
Plumbing the ancient past to inform modern Zionism, the novel tells the story of a young rabbi living under Roman rule 2,000 years ago at the time of the writing of the Talmud, a collection of writings on Jewish law.
Austin American-Statesman
Midwest Book Review
A ground-breaking historical novel, As A Driven Leaf offers an unparalleled view of the conflicts between Judaism and the pagan world, from the brilliant legal debates of the Sanhedrin to the bloody gladiatorial contests of the Roman arena. By effectively utilizing First Century characters, Steinberg is able to illuminate the pervasive tensions between Jews living in a world of gentiles. George Guidall's talented narration in this abridged audiobook edition does full justice to Milton Steinberg's superbly crafted story and brings the listener into a world of revolution, change, and conflict with the engaging intimacy of a true "theatre of the mind" experience.
August 2000
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Guidall gives a spirited, almost theatrical, reading of this minor classic of American Jewish literature, a historical novel about ancient sage-turned-apostate Elisha ben Abuyah in the late first century C.E. At the heart of the tale are questions about faith and the loss of faith and the repression and rebellion of the Jews of Palestine. Elisha is a leading scholar in Palestine, elected to the Sanhedrin, the highest Jewish court in the land. But two tragedies awaken doubt about God in Elisha's mind, and doubt eats away at his faith. Declared a heretic and excommunicated from the Jewish community, he journeys to Antioch in nearby Syria to begin a quest through Greek and Roman culture for some fundamental irrefutable truth. The pace of the narrative picks up as Elisha directly encounters the full force of the ancient Romans' all-consuming culture. Ultimately, Elisha is forced by the power of Rome to choose between loyalty to his people, who are rebelling against the emperor's domination, and loyalty to his own quest for truth. Guidall, a veteran actor and recorder of audiobooks, reads with an appropriately weighted force. And he convincingly creates voices for a score of characters--including the protagonist Elisha; his haughty, social-climbing wife, Deborah; the gentle sage and Elisha's mentor, Rabbi Joshua; and Rufus Tinneius, the tyrannical Roman governor of Palestine. A small booklet of notes accompanying the audiobook provides helpful historical background. (Sept.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal - Library Journal
As a Driven Leaf at first seems to be a fairly dreary philosophic novel, outlining first-century rabbi Elisha Ben Abuyah's education, views, and eventual crisis of faith. Just as the listener begins to doze, though, the book morphs into a 1950s movie epic (think Charlton Heston), as Elisha leaves Jerusalem and encounters the Roman Empire in all its spectacle, temptation, and cruelty. Though Elisha betrays his people and abandons his faith, he manages to remain a sympathetic and compassionate character. Based on real people and events, Steinberg's 1940 novel successfully combines these two wildly different subjects. The light abridgment keeps the pace brisk. Part of the "Great Jewish Books on Audiotape" series, this is also an impressive production, including a reader's guide and a bravura narration by George Guidall. Libraries serving significant Jewish populations should definitely buy this, and all others should balance its many merits with its relative obscurity.--John Hiett, Iowa City P.L. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Internet Bookwatch
Milton Steinberg's As A Driven Leaf is the explosive, touching story of Elisha Ben Abuyah, the real-life Talmudic sage who experienced a crisis of faith in the face of political tyranny and terrible human suffering. A ground breaking historical novel, As A Driven Leaf offers an unparalleled view of the conflicts between Judaism and the pagan world, from the brilliant legal debates of the Sanhedrin to the bloody gladiatorial contests of the Roman arena. By effectively utilizing First Century characters, Steinberg is ably to vividly illuminate the pervasive tensions between Jews a world of gentiles. George Guidall's talented narration in this complete and unabridged audiobook edition does full justice to Milton Steinberg's superbly crafted story and brings the listener into a world of revolution, change, and conflict with the engaging intimacy of a true "theatre of the mind" experience.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781893079045
Publisher:
Jewish Contemporary Classics, Incorporated
Publication date:
09/28/2000
Edition description:
Abridged, 6 Cassettes
Product dimensions:
4.14(w) x 7.69(h) x 1.08(d)

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As A Driven Leaf 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Iwanted to love this work as I had been told so much about it. I wanted to understand in a deeper way the questioning soul of Elisha ben Abuya, and the arguments by which his friends and contemporaries would prove him wrong. I was swept up by the book in the beginning. A good read. But it never really turned in the way I hoped, and did not become the passionate defense of the Jewish faith I expected. It seemed to me instead to disintegrate into a kind of ' speculative fiction' about realities of no real central importance to the Jewish living of the good life.