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Roots of the Bible

Roots of the Bible

An Ancient View for a New Vision (The Key to Creation in Jewish Tradition)

By Friedrich Weinreb

542 pp

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About the Book

Friedrich Weinreb (1910–1988) was an exceptional figure in twentieth-century Judaism. His pathbreaking book Roots of the Bible: An Ancient View For a New Vision opens the depths of the “word-hoard” of Jewish wisdom. He taps, as a source of inspiration for our present world, “the sacred oral teaching” preserved for millennia in scholarly redoubts remote from the ways of the world. He left behind an extensive body of work, in which often astonishing connections can be found between the Biblical worldview and that of today. When it first appeared in Dutch in 1963, this book heralded the veritable rediscovery of a foundational stratum of the Old Testament. For the first time, those keen to penetrate what the Bible has to say but confused by what on the surface often seems an impenetrable narrative, were offered a key to unlocking the mystery of its way of telling stories (from narrative, to word, to letter, to “number”) in a cosmologically-expanded “gematria” suited also to those unfamiliar with the original Hebrew. Weinreb communicates so vivid and profound a knowledge of Hebrew that through his work the reader quickly comes to experience the spirit and richness of the original text.

The stories of the book of Genesis—from the Creation of the World and of Humanity, Cain and Abel, the Flood, the Tower of Babel, Abraham and Isaac, Jacob and Esau, to the story of Joseph—are explored in detail, as are also the Exodus of Israel from Egypt, the Crossing of the Red Sea, and the many events on the Journey through the Wilderness to the very brink of the Promised Land.
Readers may find here answers to hitherto intractable obstacles to their understanding of the Bible—answers not only satisfying, but often astonishing! How are we to understand stories that sometimes provoke moral doubts, such as the matriarch Sarah sending Hagar into the wilderness, or Jacob receiving blessing despite having betrayed his brother Esau and even his own father, or Joseph being sold into slavery by his own brothers? Why are there so many sacrifices in the Bible, especially of animals? Why all the genealogical tables with their hundreds of names that no longer seem to say anything to us? The reader will find these, and many other perplexing questions answered in a breathtaking new light.


“Whoever wishes to penetrate the ‘unfolding’ of the sacred name of God and its subsequent ‘refolding’—the two operations being analogous to the work of creation and that of salvation—should consult Friedrich Weinreb’s masterly work Roots of the Bible concerning the divine plan of creation.”

Valentin Tomberg

author of Meditations on the Tarot: A Journey into Christian Hermeticism

“In Weinreb’s hands, scripture gains an unexpected depth, in which we glimpse the outlines of the inner structure of the world, the meaning of existence, and the meaning of creation.”

Neue Zürcher Zeitung

“This magnificent work deserves to have an impact on modern Biblical exegesis, including Christian exegesis.”

Die Welt

“The foundational theme of Weinreb’s exegesis is that of moving forward in time in order to return to the origin.”

Geist und Leben

About the Author

FRIEDRICH WEINREB (1910–1988) lived a life spanning cultures and continents. Born in what is now the Ukraine, during WWI his family fled from the Russians via Vienna to the Netherlands. From an early age he held professorships in economics in Holland, Indonesia, and Turkey. He worked in economic planning for India and for the UN in Switzerland, and was active in the Resistance during the Nazi occupation of Holland. He lived the life of an observant Orthodox Jew, but was also conversant with European civilization, and thus in a unique position to translate the wisdom of 3000 years of Jewish oral tradition into the vocabulary of modern Western thought. He lectured at the Academy of the Hebrew Language in Amsterdam and the Swiss Academy of Studies of Foundations. In all, he composed some fifty books, and left behind an extensive archive of recorded lectures. He was an innovator in his approach to the stories of the Bible, and a pioneer in widening access to the Kabbalah. For him, Judaism and Christianity are joined in creative union, Old and New Testaments forming one whole. His works, which border also upon other mystical traditions, offer a new spiritual vision based on a recovery of the “ancient” view underlying the Bible.

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