Article first published as Book Review: ‘The Book: A Humble Quest Into The Hebrew Scriptures’ by Joseph Heskel Koukou on Blogcritics.
In “The Book: A Humble Quest Into The Hebrew Scriptures” by Joseph Heskel Koukou, we follow the author’s journey through life and his reflections on reading the Hebrew Scriptures. Born in Iraq in 1924, Joseph Heskel Koukou’s family moved to Iran when he was ten years old. As a child he learned to love and recite Persian poetry, a highly regarded art form. As an adult he became an active member of Teheran’s Jewish community.
During Iran’s revolution in 1979 when Ayatollah Khomeini came into power, Joseph was taken into custody with two of his business associates. Their factory was confiscated based on false charges. Joseph spent the next two years in the infamous Evin Prison waiting for a hearing to respond to the charges, be sentenced, and to learn when he would be released.
“The Book: A Humble Quest Into The Hebrew Scriptures” is divided into four parts. Part One describes Joseph’s faith in God throughout his 4½ years of confinement, and the threat of execution by a firing squad. The story of Joseph’s release from prison and ultimate political asylum as a refugee in the United States is told in the words of his daughter, Sandra Koukou. Sandra attributes her courage to the presence of her grandfather’s spirit supernaturally guiding her step by step through a series of discreet or clandestine appointments and circumstances.
Part Two relates the result of Koukou’s quest into the wisdom of the Hebrew Scriptures throughout his imprisonment. As he recognized the unifying themes of the book of books, he took delight in the consolation and hope that resulted from his intense study at different levels of understanding. His writing resonates with his love for the Book as his faith was rekindled.
In Part Three Koukou discusses contemporary events in the Middle East, Arab nationalism, and a summary of events impacting Israel following World War II. Part Four is made up of reflections on the importance of the power of prayer, interfaith relations, a personal quest for God, and the role of religious leaders.
Koukou synthesizes his discoveries as he unlocks the personal journeys of Abraham, Moses, Joshua, and Isaac. His analysis of the Hebrew writings reveals the intertwining of the Jewish and Babylonian history, giving new insights into their cultures and traditions. He encourages the reader to develop the art of critical thinking with an emphasis on using their own good judgment when faced with the fear and uncertainty of the unknown.
“The Book: A Humble Quest Into The Hebrew Scriptures” by Joseph Heskel Koukou is unique in the uplifting nature, intellectual appeal, and profound insight; and will live on in the hearts of the reader through a look beyond the surface reading through the use of metaphor and storytelling. Koukou’s writing is highly endorsed by Rabbis, scholars, historians, and educators, and is an educational experience for any generation.