Wrestling with Angels: What Genesis Teaches Us about Our Spiritual Identity, Sexuality, and Personal Relationships


Wrestling with Angels

For over twenty years, psychotherapist, lecturer, and Bible teacher Naomi H. Rosenblatt has been leading some of the nation's best and brightest minds through the Bible, from Wall Street boardrooms to weekly sessions in the U.S. Congress, in what William Safire has called "the best Bible class for the layman." Drawing upon insights into human nature gleaned from decades of private practice and a lifelong study of the Bible, she sifts through the Bible's ...

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Wrestling With Angels: What Genesis Teaches Us About Our Spiritual Identity, Sexuality and Personal Rel ationships

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Wrestling with Angels

For over twenty years, psychotherapist, lecturer, and Bible teacher Naomi H. Rosenblatt has been leading some of the nation's best and brightest minds through the Bible, from Wall Street boardrooms to weekly sessions in the U.S. Congress, in what William Safire has called "the best Bible class for the layman." Drawing upon insights into human nature gleaned from decades of private practice and a lifelong study of the Bible, she sifts through the Bible's epic stories, filled with vivid characters in dramatic circumstances, to show how the lessons of their lives empower us today as parents, spouses, businesspeople, citizens, and lovers.

In Wrestling with Angels, she and her co-author Joshua Horwitz retell and interpret the multigenerational saga of the first family of the Bible, showing how their all-too-human struggles are decidedly relevant to the issues confronting us today.

The Bible? Relevant today? Many readers will be surprised by how truly relevant the Book of Genesis is. It discusses, among other things, the first recorded case of sexual harassment; surrogate parenting and the problems it raises; siblings battling over the love of a parent; rape and its consequences; and vigilante justice. The issues faced by Adam and Eve, Abraham and Sarah, and their descendants are remarkably similar to those that arise in all of our lives, including:
The  strenuous demands of adulthood
The challenges of faith
The joys of sexuality
The nature of leadership and heroism
The responsibilities of parenting
The role of values in building character
The empowerment of a spiritual identity

In this extraordinary book of timeless and profound wisdom, Naomi Rosenblatt invites both Christians and Jews to revisit our common spiritual heritage: "For the humanist, the religious, the agnostic, or the merely inquisitive, Wrestling with Angels is an open invitation to probe the mystery, the miracle, and the drama of adult life in an imperfect world."

A book to be read again and again, Wrestling with Angels is a poignant and pragmatic guide to the bestselling self-help book of all time.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Praise For Naomi H. Rosenblatt and Wrestling with Angels

"Naomi Rosenblatt is a remarkably stimulating and charismatic teacher. Her Bible classes were a weekly source of inspiration for all of us who attended them here at the U.S. Senate. Her book will provide a new and warm understanding of the Bible in clear and illuminating prose."
— Howard Metzenbaum, United States senator

"Naomi vividly brings to life Jacob, Joseph and other biblical characters to provide special insights into today's world problems."
— Arlen Specter, United States senator

"Naomi Rosenblatt is an exceptionally gifted person with a sharp mind and a winning personality. For five years I had the privilege of being her student. These were among the most challenging and rewarding years of my life."
— Marvin Kalb, director, Shorenstein Center on Press and Politics, Harvard University

"Naomi is a wonderful person, and I don't think I have ever sat under a more effective teacher than she."
— Reverend Richard C. Halverson, chaplain, U.S. Senate

"Wrestling with Angels is filled with powerful ethical and psychological insights which not only deepen our understanding of the Bible,but have the power to transform how we live today-which is, of course, exactly what the Bible has always intended to do."
— Rabbi Joseph Telushkin, author, Jewish Wisdom

"Eloquently interconnecting holiness and dailiness, Wrestling with Angels illuminates the Bible's enduring relevance to our modern-day struggles and fears and profoundest yearnings."
— Judith Viorst, author, Necessary Losses

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
The authors explore the psychological insights into modern life that can be gleaned from the book of Genesis. (Oct.)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780385313339
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 10/1/1996
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 416
  • Sales rank: 828,683
  • Product dimensions: 5.99 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.87 (d)

Meet the Author

Naomi H. Rosenblatt is a psychotherapist, lecturer, and adult Bible class teacher. She teaches several popular Bible classes in New York and Washington, including a weekly class held at the Capitol building and attended by U.S. senators from both sides of the aisle. She lectures regularly on ethics and contemporary Bible themes, and her Bible classes have been the subject of numerous newspaper and magazine articles. She earned a master's degree in clinical social work from Catholic University and has a private psychotherapy practice in Washington, D.C.

Joshua Horwitz, a student of Naomi Rosenblatt's since 1978, is a writer and publisher. He has produced award-winning documentaries for PBS, written screenplays and teleplays, and is the author of several children's and young adult books. He is also the co-founder and president of Living Planet Press.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 12, 2002

    Genesis as Therapy

    Wrestling With Angels: What the First Family of Genesis Teaches Us About Our Spiritual Identity, Sexuality, and Personal Relationships (Naomi Rosenblatt and Joshua Horwitz, Delacorte, 1995) is a book with a specific agenda: understanding Genesis as a series of lessons about the nature of human character. Her voice (it's largely hers; Horwitz is not much in direct evidence) is that of the therapist. The themes are as old as guilt and sibling rivalry and sexual temptation, and as "modern" as midlife crisis, blended families and surrogate parentage. We are comfortable with these psychological concepts, and Rosenblatt is generally successful at using these as tools to understand these stories --- and ourselves. The subtitle's "Family" is a misnomer; it should be "Families". It covers people from Adam to Noah to Joseph, and they aren't considered one family in the normal sense. The chapter on the Tower of Babel doesn't involve any particular people. There are 35 self-contained chapters. The titles set the theme: "Rachel and Leah: Competing for Love, Passion and Status", "The Brothers Reappear: Wrestling with Unresolved pain", "Abraham goes forth: Following a Personal Vision". She starts with a broad introduction to the theme, then sets the stage for the particular story. The story is presented via selected excerpts from Genesis. Interspersed are her comments and "imagined narrative details". Of these she says, "Our Embellishments to the original text of these stories are historically correct" whatever that means. It's unclear whether she's relying on traditional midrash or her own. Then she provides her summary, analysis and conclusions, sometimes including anecdotes from her own life. The book displays both substantial weaknesses and strengths. On the minus side, the allegories and symbols are laid on rather thickly. For example, on page 267, there is entitled "The Well as the Portal of the Soul." But on 268, we are instead told that it is the stone (which covered the well) that is "the portal of her [Rachel's] ¿ soul." Further, we are told that "The well represents Rachel's virgin sexuality" and in the next sentence "the well is symbolic of Jacob's unconscious". In her discussion of the Covenant Between the Pieces, admittedly a very murky event, I found her symbolic explanation of the items unconvincing, and note that she omits any explanation of the smoking oven. Some things really are a stretch. One chapter is "Lot Departs the Clan: Letting Go of Children", but she presents no reasoning that Abram ever considered his nephew as a son. Putting the modern motherhood/career dilemma into Rachel/Leah story was unconvincing. None of the treatments are in any great depth, and the nuances of the Bible's language in telling these stories is entirely lost. On the other hand, her handling of conflicts within the (extended) family is especially deft, and she turns to this, effectively, again and again. She had a particularly good feel for the character of Jacob, and her chapter on his wrestling with the "Personal Angels and Demons" was especially well done. She has an intriguing comparison between Noah and Oscar Schindler; I wish it had been more developed. Her writing is clear and the almost conversational style easily draws the reader in, without wasting words. While many can learn from this, the book is especially good for beginners. It does not presuppose any knowledge of either the Bible or how it is approached, and makes no demands of a particular kind of faith. And it provides fresh evidence of why these stories are so enduring.

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