Books by Marc Gopin


Compassionate Judaism: The Life and Thought of Samuel David Luzzatto Paperback – November 13, 2017

In his theological and philosophical analysis of the ideals of Samuel David Luzzatto, Marc Gopin critically examines the process that brought Luzzatto to his revolutionary conclusions about the compassionate nature of Judaism.

Unlike his contemporaries, Luzzatto wasn’t content with the division of secular Enlightenment thinking and traditional religious values. He believed that these schools of thought and their moral implications could synergize; in fact, he found a basis for honoring universal moral commitments within the construct of rabbinical Judaism.

Learn how Luzzatto reconciled his passion for scientific reasoning, enlightened thought, and universal humanitarianism with his staunch religious conviction. The process of reaching such an unprecedented marriage of beliefs is uncovered by Gopin’s study. He explores the influence of moral sense theory, a precursor to modern scientific approaches to ethics, on Luzzatto’s premises.

Luzzatto believed that compassion, not tribalism, was the medium by which we all might learn to live in peace. In a modern world plagued by hatred, destruction, and war, it is sometimes necessary to look to the past for a way to move forward.

“”Marc Gopin in Compassionate Judaism has brought to American public awareness the passionate life and work of the Jewish religious and Enligtenment thinker, Samuel David Luzzatto, as a model of the possibility and vital importance of integrating and reconciling the life of traditional faith with a commitment to both the universal value of compassion toward all and to a respect for empirical and scientific inquiry and outlook.  This book serves as the underlying bedrock and spring of Gopin’s own passionate commitment and, I must say also, noble life devoted to bringing different and opposing religious figures and communities together into compassionate and practical mutual understanding and common projects in his ongoing practice and teaching of Citizen Diplomacy.  I recommend this book most highly to anyone and everyone who cares about of resolving world conflicts.”  — Heidi M. Ravven, Ph.D., Bates & Benjamin Professor of Classical & Religious Studies and Professor of Jewish Philosophy, Chair, Department of Religious Studies, Hamilton College Fellow in Neurophilosophy, Integrative Neurosciences Research Program, Vilayanur Ramachandran and Kjell Fuxe, Co-Directors

Bridges across an Impossible DivideBridges across an Impossible Divide: The Inner Lives of Arab and Jewish Peacemakers (Oxford University Press, 2012)

Peace between Arabs and Jews seems forever out of reach, both sides caught in a never-ending cycle of violence and revenge. But while treaties and other top-down solutions have had little lasting effect, peacemakers on the ground are creating real change – within themselves and with their enemies. In Bridges across an Impossible Divide, American professor and Rabbi Marc Gopin offers an unprecedented exploration of the spiritual lives of Arab and Jewish peacemakers who have evolved deep friendships despite decades of war and suffering on all sides. The peacemakers included in this book have little or no formal training in conflict resolution or diplomacy, but through trial and error they have devised their own unique methods of looking inward and reaching out across enemy lines. Gopin provides insightful analysis of the lessons to be learned from these peace builders, outlining the characteristics that make them successful. He argues that lasting conflict and misery between enemies is the result of an emotional, cognitive, and ethical failure to self-examine, and that the true transformation of a troubled society is brought about by the spiritual introspection of extraordinary, determined individuals. The book is unique in that its central body is the actual words of peacemakers themselves as they speak of their struggles to overcome the death of loved ones and to find common ground with adversaries. Most of these accounts are from peacemakers who have hardly written before. This is a treasure trove for scholars and the general public who seek to understand the conflict and its peacemakers at a far deeper level. These remarkable stories reveal a level of inner examination that is rarely encountered in the literature of political science, international relations, or even conflict resolution theory. They show how building friendships invigorates the effort to bring equality, nonviolent social change, and reconciliation to warring peoples. Bridges across an Impossible Divide takes readers beyond the rhetoric of political leaders into the spiritual lives of men and women actually making peace with their enemies.

To Make the Earth Whole: The Art of Citizen Diplomacy in an Age of Religious Militancy (Rowman & Littlefield 2009)

“To say this is a case-study of ‘citizen diplomacy’—itself a far too bland description of what is going on here—is to miss the other virtues of this work. It is at once a study of the role in militant religion in intractable conflicts, a look inside the complexity of contemporary Syria and Syrian-U.S. and Israeli relations, a primer on social network theory, a sophisticated discussion of the ethics of third parties who are outsiders to other peoples’ deadly conflicts and, like so much of Gopin’s work, a deeply felt account of his life’s journey in peacemaking and peacebuilding. Margaret Mead once wrote, ‘Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.’ In describing his own efforts and those of a remarkable group of individuals in the Middle East and elsewhere, Marc Gopin has written a book that shows both the truth of that statement and offers insight into how it is done.” (Avruch, Kevin )

Healing the Heart of Conflict

Healing the Heart of Conflict: 8 Crucial Steps to Making Peace with Yourself and Others (Rodale, 2004)

“Psychologically and spiritually grounded, compassionate, and compelling” — Publishers Weekly starred review. Drawing on his rich experience in the field of international conflict resolution, Marc Gopin applies what he has learned about clashing cultures and beliefs on the world stage to the more personal but no less painful struggles involving families, friends, and coworkers. In Healing the Heart of Conflict, Dr. Gopin identifies the measures we can all take to make peace in our own troubled lives. His powerful 8-step plan includes careful coaching in the art of listening, the art of observation, and the delicate process of addressing the deepest emotions of others under circumstances that could turn explosive at any moment. He then applies these steps to practical examples from the workplace, in romantic relationships, and in our communities. Whether you are clashing with a spouse, a relative, or a troublesome coworker, Healing the Heart of Conflict offers profound and inventive solutions to your problems.

 Holy War, Holy Peace: How Religion Can Bring Peace to the Middle East (Oxford University Press, 2002)

The Intifada of 2000-2001 has demonstrated the end of an era of diplomacy in the Arab-Israeli conflict. The style of peacemaking of the Olso Accords has been called into question by the facts on the ground. Elite forms of peacemaking that do not embrace the basic needs of average people on all sides are bound to fail. The complete neglect of deeper cultural and religious systems in the peace process is now apparent, as is the role that this neglect has played in the failure of the process. Building on his earlier book, Between Eden and Armageddon, Gopin provides a detailed blueprint of how the religious traditions in question can become a principal asset in the search for peace and justice. He demonstrates how religious people can be the critical missing link in peacemaking, and how the incorporation of their values and symbols can unleash a new dynamic that directly addresses basic issues of ethics, justice, and peace. Gopin’s analysis of the theoretical, theological, and political planes shows us what has been achieved thus far, as well as what must be done next in order to ensure effective final settlement negotiations and secure, sovereign, democratic countries for both peoples.

Between Eden and Armageddon: The Future of World Religions, Violence and Peacemaking (Oxford University Press, 2000)

Recent years have seen a meteoric rise in the power and importance of organized religion in many parts of the world. At the same time, there has been a significant increase in violence perpetrated in the name of religion. While much has been written on the relationship between violence and religious militancy, history shows that religious people have also played a critical role in peacemaking within numerous cultures. In the new century, will religion bring upon further catastrophes? Or will it provide human civilization with methods of care, healing, and the creation of peaceful and just societies? In this groundbreaking book, Marc Gopin integrates the study of religion with the study of conflict resolution. He argues that religion can play a critical role in constructing a global community of shared moral commitments and vision–a community that can limit conflict to its nonviolent, constructive variety. If we examine religious myths and moral traditions, Gopin argues, we can understand why and when religious people come to violence, and why and when they become staunch peacemakers. He shows that it is the conservative expression of most religious traditions that presents the largest challenge in terms of peace and conflict. Gopin considers ways to construct traditional paradigms that are committed to peacemaking on a deep level and offers such a paradigm for the case of Judaism. Throughout, Gopin emphasizes that developing the potential of the world’s religions for coping with conflict demands a conscious process on the part of peacemakers and theologians. His innovative and carefully argued study also offers a broad set of recommendations for policy planners both inside and outside of government.