Book Review: The Ten Commandments: Still The Best Moral Code

The Ten Commandments:  Still The Best Moral Code, by Dennis Prager

I have to admit that I was a bit disappointed with this book.  My disappointment does not spring form the fact that the author says anything wrong–if you are looking for a brief volume that serves as a workbook in association with the author’s video (?) on the Ten Commandments, it is fine for what it is.  The disappointment comes from the fact that the book admirably achieves a not very ambitious goal of being a basic summary of the Ten Commandments in the Bible and in contemporary application [1], rather than for anything negative that it says.  When one is dealing with a writer as good as Dennis Prager is, the question is one of how ambitious of a work he chose to write, not how enjoyable the book is within its genre.  Be that as it may, so long as your expectations are sufficiently mild for this book and you are not expecting it to be a lengthy work as some of his are, this book is certainly an enjoyable example of a modest work on the Ten Commandments and their application in society.

The contents of this book are predictably straightforward in that light.  The book has a foreword and a short introduction about the Ten Commandments in which the author discusses the humor as well as the seriousness of the Commandments.  After this there follows a discussion of the Ten Commandments in the way that they are defined by the Jews, where each chapter includes an explanation of the law and some ways that its application would be of benefit to the people of the United States (and other countries) in the present day.  It should be noted that in the Jewish reckoning, the first Commandment is one of identity about God and the second commandment includes the prohibitions against rivalry with other gods and idols to represent God, which only makes the five-point covenant aspect of the Ten Commandments more obvious, which is something I may write about at length myself at a later time.  Every one of the chapters includes some space for the reader to answer the questions asked by Dennis Prager for the reader to think about and muse on.  As a whole, the book takes up less than 100 pages and many of those pages are left blank for the reader to write on, which makes this a very short book indeed.

Given the brevity and shallowness of this book’s materials, it is obvious that this book can only be fairly judged in association with the video edition of Prager’s study of the Ten Commandments or as a minor counterpoint to the author’s focus on things that are still true, rather than as an independent work in its own right.  When viewed as an accessory to the video, it may appear in a better light as a supporting character, but when viewed in isolation as a book, especially one that sports a $14.99 price tag, the book appears to be rather overpriced for its modest accomplishments.  As is frequently the case when one looks at a book, the context of a work matters almost as much as the work itself.  The author says nothing objectionable about the law and his view of the ten commandments and how they ought to be separated is itself noteworthy and intriguing.  That said, this book is not nearly deep enough to be worth its price tag, not long enough or thoughtful enough or filled with enough research and interesting material.  Others may disagree, however.

[1] See, for example:

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
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