Allison's Book Bag

The Ten Commandments: Still the Best Code by Dennis Prager

Posted on: June 26, 2015

The Ten Commandments: Still the Best Code by Dennis Prager is a short and easy-to-read guide to these Biblical rules. Whether the guide will convince non-adherents to change their minds, I’m not sure. As for me, it did inform me of some differences between the Jewish and Christian faith. For those interested, there is also a picture book version available. I’ll refer to both in my review.

As a child, I memorized The Ten Commandments along with other scriptures. What surprised me most then about Prager’s guide is that some of his interpretations of these Biblical rules were different from those familiar to me. For example, I always viewed the first commandment has: “You shall have no other gods before me.” Not so according to Prager, who lists the first as: “I am the Lord your God.” Then there is there’s the interpretation of the second commandment, “Do not misuse God’s name.” Like many of my Christian friends, I grew up believing this solely meant not to swear and being chastised for doing this. While Prager does note that one should indeed respect God’s name, he states that the commandment actually refers to it being wrong to do something evil for God. According to Prager, breaking this second commandment is a unforgiveable sin. There are a few other differences too, but I’ll leave you to discover these in his guide for yourself. I will note that Prager’s guide lead me to do some research of the Jewish faith and to discover that there definitely exists a different explanation for some of the Ten Commandments among Jews in contrast to Christians.

There are some other aspects to praise too about The Ten Commandments: Still the Best Code. First, it’s a short guide of only 90 pages, with each commandment being covered in about three to six pages. Second, should you want to reflect on the text or use this in a study group, each chapter about the actual commandments has five questions at the end. There’s also a page of lines where one can write notes. Last, the guide is straightforward, with fairly simple sentences, and so makes for a quick and uncomplicated read. As for the picture book version, its length actually falls short of the average 48 pages, being less than 30. Moreover, each commandment is explained in one page. The end pages include a story of the origins of the Ten Commandments, as well as the scriptural text for these Biblical laws. I also enjoyed the colorful illustrations, one for each page of text, which are pleasing to the eye and professional in appearance.

Is there anything to dislike about either guide? At $15, the adult version feels overpriced, both because of its size and because the text feels as if just the bare bones about the Ten Commandments. Otherwise, I have two main other issues, each again involving the adult version. First, in his foreword where Prager tries to argue a case for society to follow the Ten Commandments, he says that mankind is not evil but is just not predisposed to goodness. A cursory search of the Old Testament scriptures will turn up many verses which contradict Prager and makes a clear case for saying that the ways of man without God are wicked. In going against scripture, Prager weakens his stand that the Ten Commandments are important. Finally, while I think that the Ten Commandments can show us how to make the world a better place, the fact remains that in the 3000 years since their existence many have not followed them. As some reviewers asked: What then is the remedy?

Overall, Prager has created two well-written guides to The Ten Commandments. For those who are already familiar with these Biblical rules or who disagree with society’s need of them, his adult guide may fall short. Everyone else, however, will find that he makes the rules palpable and maybe even adds to their understanding of them. As for his picture book, it’s an excellent presentation of a guide for life.

My rating? Read it: Borrow from your library or a friend. It’s worth your time.

How would you rate this book?

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