3 out of 4 stars
Share This Review
I would like to preface this by saying I’m not Jewish. I’m an agnostic Roman Catholic with a mild interest in religious theory from all religious perspectives. I also believe in both Creationism and evolution.
With that in mind, I came into Daniel Friedmann and Dania Sheldon’s The Biblical Clock with certain expectations that were not met. Rather, the book was markedly different from what I thought it would be in many interesting ways.
Is this good? Is it bad? Is it simply a book that exists?
I’m not sure, but it did warrant 3 out of 4 stars, so perhaps there’s more to it than meets the eye (much like a Transformer). Shall we, dear reader?
The Biblical Clock is a work of religious non-fiction that delves into the theoretical. The authorial voice is Friedmann’s and, within the book, he contemplates the nature of Creation and how it can be tied into the scientific Theory of Evolution.
I would note here that Friedmann looks not at the Theory of Evolution as Darwin proposes it, but, rather, the theory as tested and refined over years of research. Going forward, it’s important to keep this in mind as he not only approaches the topic from his own religious standpoint as a Jewish man, but also as a scientist with experience in engineering and the space industry.
This is key to understanding his approach, as the core of The Biblical Clock is based on combining currently accepted science with various interlocking rabbinic interpretations of Scripture. Friedmann does this in two ways.
First, each chapter, except for chapter 10, begins with an imagining of how the Rabbi, sage or historic figure approaches his own interpretation of the genesis of the earth and man. These are, of course, passages of creative non-fiction that focus on the journey to the discovery and/or passing on of information as much as they focus on the conclusions reached by each figure on the subject. Once that section is concluded, however, the reader is then shown how Friedmann incorporates the key information presented into his own findings.
It’s a rather interesting bit of work, his proposal being one that’s based on the idea that the initial six days in which the earth was created did not last for 24 hours as we know it today. Rather, it was several thousand years of our current understanding of time, with each day spanning millennia.
While it was disappointing that Friedmann did not cite an evolving orbit around the sun and only briefly mentions the expanding universe, he does present a new way of thinking about it. He first uses Kabbalistic writings and math to explain his viewpoint before proceeding to test his theory against the timeline of important events in Jewish history outlined in the Torah.
However, I often found the book to be a bit dry. While the insight into the history of Jewish knowledge and interpretation of Creation was the book’s hook, the theoretical portion tended to leave me a bit impatient to get past it due to sheer boredom. Furthermore, Friedmann tends to use quite a lot of Jewish terms without explaining them or providing context when not related to what he’s talking about.
This could be mitigated by proper citation and contextual clues, but, in the case of the kindle and .mobi files, he relies on the hyperlink function and a limited number of endnote notation, which was often an annoyance and a distraction. Furthermore, chapter 10, which contains Friedmann’s own predictions for the End of Days, comes at a point in the book where it diminishes the impact it would have had at the end.
With that being said, I still somewhat enjoyed the book and found it somewhat entertaining, hence my rating above. There were a couple of errors as well, but nothing too egregious, and I think it’s worth looking at. If you have an interest in the theories and interpretations of Creation and how it could be correlated by science, or if you’re looking for a different theological perspective, I highly recommend this book. Even if you don’t agree with Friedmann, it’s still a good read.
The Biblical Clock
View: on Bookshelves | on Amazon