The Ten CommandmentsBook - 2014
The author of the bestselling E=mc2 reveals how these 10 ancient rules have influenced the world's civilizations for millennia and into the present.
The Ten Commandments originated in the tumultuous period when Bronze Age empires were crashing to destruction and groups of refugees in Canaan needed new rules for how to survive together cooperatively. Old directives from kings and priests were no longer enough-and the commandments was a social contract that filled the gap.
David Bodanis's The Ten Commandments is an eye-opening work of cultural history chronicling the enormous impact on civilization the commandments have had, sometimes notably by efforts to subvert them. For example, in eighteenth century France, Charles-Gilbert Romme flouted the fourth commandment by introducing the one-hundred-minute hour and the ten-day week, eliminating the Sabbath. In 1929, Joseph Stalin decreed a five-day week, keeping factories open around the clock. With each worker having a different day off, there was no longer a common Sabbath.
From the ninth commandment, about bearing false witness, leading to our courts' “innocent until proven guilty” to the fifth commandment, about honoring parents, being used by Louis XIV to justify the Divine Right of Kings, by John Locke to refute kingly authority, and by Thomas Jefferson in the Declaration of Independence, Bodanis relates the human drama surrounding each commandment and broadens our understanding of and appreciation for arguably the most important and enduring tenets of Western civilization.