It is hard for me to believe —but exciting to contemplate—that What’s in It for Me? Finding Ourselves in Biblical Narratives is now available in three editions. There is the original book in English published last year, a just released German edition, and an even more recently released audio book edition (www.audible.com).
Due to production issues the three books have three different covers, and as I look at each one, I am glad that they do.
The original has a nice photo of a number of individuals from different ethnic and religious backgrounds all leaning in to grasp a copy of the Torah, the first five books of the Hebrew Bible. The message is that people of all backgrounds and religious beliefs (or no religious beliefs) can gain valuable insight and understanding from biblical stories. I am grateful for the many who have told me—including the 28 five-star AMAZON reviewers (http://www.amazon.com/Whats-Finding-Ourselves-Biblical-Narratives/dp/1427655014/ref=tmm_pap_title_0) that they have.
The audio edition has an artistic depiction of Abraham, selected from the net by Skip Conover, who encouraged me to record the book and helped me jump through all the technical hoops (and at times they were daunting) that stood between the recording and the release of the finished product.
Abraham was the perfect choice for the cover photo because Christians, Muslims as well as Jews consider him our spiritual patriarch, and my goal is that the book appeal to all people.
The cover of the German edition also depicts Abraham, but (I know you will understand) this cover holds the most personal meaning for me of the three.
First, it depicts Abraham and his wife Sarah beginning together their journey to the Promised Land. Together they answered God’s call to start a new way of life with the aim of teaching humanity to build a just, caring and compassionate society. Sarah is such an integral part of the story and so beloved to Abraham that the midrash points out: Abraham endured ten difficult trials, but the only time the Torah tells us that Abraham wept is when his beloved Sarah dies.(Bereshit Rabbah 58:1).
Second the cover photo was painstakingly shot by photographer Lena Stein and carefully selected from dozens of snaps by Pastor Ursula Sieg (holding the German edition in the photo above). The photo is from one of the magnificent stained glass windows of Congregation Beth Israel, West Hartford Connecticut, where I served as Spiritual Leader of for fourteen years.
Pastor Sieg not only translated the book into German, but, aided By Dr. Serafine C. Kratzke, oversaw every aspect of its production through the publishing house she established, Mutual Blessing Edition.
Pastor Sieg undertook this project and saw it through to successful completion because of her passion to foster greater understanding and affirmation among all religious groups.
Seen together, my three covers form a mosaic (pun intended) that pays tribute to our roots in the stories of the patriarchs and matriarchs and looks with hope to a future of greater harmony among all of God’s children.
Whether you choose the original—in either eBook or hard copy format— the audio book, or the German translation, may you find meaning in the ideas you encounter. Indeed, I hope that as the President of Hartford Seminary, Dr. Heidi Hadsell, wrote in her Foreword, ” …you will be informed, comforted, challenged and encouraged … you may also find in the process you have changed in important ways.