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Macmillan Childrens Publishing Group
Joseph and the Way of Forgiveness

Joseph and the Way of Forgiveness

A Biblical Tale Retold

Stephen Mitchell

St. Martin's Essentials

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A unique and special kind of masterpiece.” —John Banville

Stephen Mitchell’s gift is to breathe new life into ancient classics. In Joseph and the Way of Forgiveness, he offers us his riveting novelistic version of the Biblical tale in which Jacob’s favorite son is sold into slavery and eventually becomes viceroy of Egypt. Tolstoy called it the most beautiful story in the world. What’s new here is the lyrical, witty, vivid prose, informed by a wisdom that brings fresh insight to this foundational legend of betrayal and all-embracing forgiveness. Mitchell’s retelling, which reads like a postmodern novel, interweaves the narrative with brief meditations that, with their Zen surprises, expand the narrative and illuminate its main themes.

By stepping inside the minds of Joseph and the other characters, Mitchell reanimates one of the central stories of Western culture. The engrossing tale that he has created will capture the hearts and minds of modern readers and show them that this ancient story can still challenge, delight, and astonish.

Why Jacob Loved Joseph Best


JACOB LOVED JOSEPH FAR MORE than his other children. This partiality was obvious to everyone, especially to the other sons. It could be considered Jacob’s tragic flaw, if our story weren’t a comedy—that...

Praise for Joseph and the Way of Forgiveness

“Stephen Mitchell is a tireless curator of wisdom, whose life’s work is nothing less than the study of human transformation. With Joseph and the Way of Forgiveness, Mitchell has reached back in time to one of our oldest stories of grace and brought its lessons forward to us. The heart cannot help but be moved and healed by the treasure to be found in these pages.” —Elizabeth Gilbert

“Stephen Mitchell’s Joseph and the Way of Forgiveness is a rich and meaningful chronicle-cum-midrash.” —Cynthia Ozick

"Joseph and the Way of Forgiveness is a beautiful ‘retelling’ of one of the most profound and moving passages in the Bible. Stephen Mitchell has fashioned a deceptively simple version of the story of Joseph and his brothers, and given it back to the world in luminous prose that the authors of the King James Version would applaud. A unique and special kind of masterpiece."—John Banville

"Stephen Mitchell has offered us a lovely treat, a creative and heartfelt way to re-inhabit this biblical story full of wisdom and healing." —Jack Kornfield, author of A Path With Heart

Joseph and the Way of Forgiveness is a timeless narrative that will transform your mind as it engages your imagination. It’s a delight to read, a wonder for the heart, and an inspiration.”
—Daniel J. Siegel, MD, New York Times bestselling author of Aware—The Science and Practice of Presence

“Joseph and the Way of Forgiveness is a sparkling, joyous retelling of a story that seems endle… More…

“Stephen Mitchell is a tireless curator of wisdom, whose life’s work is nothing less than the study of human transformation. With Joseph and the Way of Forgiveness, Mitchell has reached back in time to one of our oldest stories of grace and brought its lessons forward to us. The heart cannot help but be moved and healed by the treasure to be found in these pages.” —Elizabeth Gilbert

“Stephen Mitchell’s Joseph and the Way of Forgiveness is a rich and meaningful chronicle-cum-midrash.” —Cynthia Ozick

"Joseph and the Way of Forgiveness is a beautiful ‘retelling’ of one of the most profound and moving passages in the Bible. Stephen Mitchell has fashioned a deceptively simple version of the story of Joseph and his brothers, and given it back to the world in luminous prose that the authors of the King James Version would applaud. A unique and special kind of masterpiece."—John Banville

"Stephen Mitchell has offered us a lovely treat, a creative and heartfelt way to re-inhabit this biblical story full of wisdom and healing." —Jack Kornfield, author of A Path With Heart

Joseph and the Way of Forgiveness is a timeless narrative that will transform your mind as it engages your imagination. It’s a delight to read, a wonder for the heart, and an inspiration.”
—Daniel J. Siegel, MD, New York Times bestselling author of Aware—The Science and Practice of Presence

“Joseph and the Way of Forgiveness is a sparkling, joyous retelling of a story that seems endlessly opaque and hard to comprehend in the Bible. Stephen Mitchell has made the story wondrous, and a page turner that takes us into a new, mysterious world, as palpable as the one we live in today.” —Paul Hawken, author of Blessed Unrest

“Stephen Mitchell’s vividly imagined narrative breathes interior life into the classic Joseph story, and offers the reader a generous and much needed gift—an incisive and moving account of the spiritual power of forgiveness.” —Elaine Pagels

"How do you honestly and deeply 'interpret' a dream? By dreaming it onwards. How do you honestly and deeply read a story from the Bible? By telling it onwards, again and again, with a reverent imagination. Stephen Mitchell has beautifully reimagined the Biblical story of Joseph with an enhanced retelling in exquisite language and with subtle insight. You won’t find a more moving, inspiring and enlightening book on the Bible."

—Thomas Moore, author of The Care of the Soul and Ageless Soul

"A lyrical and vivid retelling of the biblical tale, with powerful lessons for those of us living in a fractious age."
—Rabbi David Wolpe, author of David: The Divided Heart

"Exceptionally written and scripturally loyal, this is a fine achievement."—Kirkus (Starred Review)


"It is not just Tolstoy who saw the Biblical tale of Joseph and His Brothers as 'the most beautiful story in the world.' It is also the Qur’an, which narrates it in full, while introducing it as 'the most beautiful of narrations.' In this elegant book, Stephen Mitchell takes that beauty to new heights, while also elucidating the moral wisdom behind it. He presents not just an enchanting prose, but also an uplifting spirit."

— Mustafa Akyol, author of The Islamic Jesus


"[A] captivating contemporary retelling of the biblical story of Joseph"—Publisher's Weekly

"Evoking the ancient Jewish art of Midrash, Mitchell has now novelized this timeless story, bringing to it a touch of metafiction, and a sometimes breezy and insouciant but always reverent style. Richly imagined and told in bite-size chapters, the story is compulsively readable and inspirational. It’s a timeless tale retold in a timeless fashion.” — Booklist

“With the gift of a storyteller and the knowledge of a Bible scholar, Mitchell engages in an extended work of midrash that breathes new life and meaning into familiar characters…. A pleasurable, enlightening, lively, and lyrical book.” —Jonathan Kirsch, Jewish Journal

"Joseph and the Way of Forgiveness: A Biblical Tale Retold” by Stephen Mitchell (St. Martin’s) reads like a novelistic treatment of the Joseph story, when he is sold into slavery by his brothers. Mitchell inserts brief mediations into the narrative, illuminating ideas. About Joseph, he writes, “True forgiveness, he had learned, is the realization that there is nothing to forgive.” —The New York Jewish Week

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Reviews from Goodreads

Stephen Mitchell

Stephen Mitchell was born in Brooklyn, educated at Amherst, the Sorbonne, and Yale, and de-educated through intensive Zen training. His many books include the bestselling Tao Te Ching, Gilgamesh, The Gospel According to Jesus, The Book of Job, The Second Book of the Tao, The Selected Poetry of Rainer Maria Rilke, Bhagavad Gita, The Iliad, The Odyssey, and Beowulf. He is also the co-author of three of his wife Byron Katie’s bestselling books.

image of Stephen Mitchello
Brie Childers