Current Publications


Selected Publications and Videos

Untangling the Middle East
Magic & Religion
God and the Goalposts
Tradition and Transformation
Jews on Trial
Embracing the World
The Gulen Movement
The Glory of Ukraine
Untangling the Web
Fixing the World
Mysticism in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam: Searching for Oneness
Our Sacred Signs
Art Across the Ages
The Ashen Rainbow
Heilige Zeichen
On the Edge
National Treasures of Georgia
Art and Soul
Stone, Wood, Oil Water
The Golden Fleece
Inside Out House and Home
New Mexico's Crypto-Jews
From Sea to Shining Sea

Click on the titles below to order from

  • Untangling the Middle East

Untangling the Middle East: A Guide to the Past, Present and Future of the World's Most Volatile Region

an updated and expanded edition of the earlier Untangling the Web
Skyhorse Publishing (2017)

Untangling the Middle East is a layman’s guide to the history—political, religious, and cultural—that led us to the current challenges plaguing the Middle East. It covers the major interests and actors in the region, and helps to spin a narrative of the evolution of violence and conflict in this age-old hotbed of unrest. The Middle East may be a mess but it need not be a mystery, with the help of this indispensable guide.

  • Magic & Religion

Magic and Religion in the Greco-Roman world: the Beginnings of Judaism and Christianity

Academia-West Press (2017)

This volume offers an account of how Judaism and Christianity emerged in the Greco-Roman world of multi-aspected Paganisms as distinct, related faiths, each claiming to properly continue the Hebrew-Israelite-Judaean tradition; how their spiritual relationship was affected by their mutual interface, their theological relationships with Paganism, and the political context of Pagan Rome; why and how the vocabulary of religion, magic, superstition, heresy and true belief emerged and evolved; and how the shaping of that vocabulary has affected and continues to affect our sense of what Judaism and Christianity are.

  • God and the Goalposts

God and the Goalposts: A Brief History of Sports, Religion, Politics, War, and Art

Bartleby Press (2016)

Crossing the goal line, with the football tucked safely in his arms, the NFL star falls on one knee, bows his head, crosses himself and utters a prayer of thanksgiving to God, giving one more example of the ever expanding connection between sports and religion. At least it seems to be expanding. The question is: has there been truly a notable surge in the relationship between sports and religion? And if there has been a surge, is it unique in history, or merely part of an ongoing ebb and flow? This book offers a concise yet detailed account of this multifaceted association ―and its implications for the ongoing game (the ultimate sport!) of trying to understand what we humans are as a species. Sports is one among many areas where religion and its concerns have played a role, and the interweave between sports and religion is as old as sports and as continuous as religion.

  • Tradition and Transformation

Tradition and Transformation: Three Millennia of Jewish Art and Architecture

Canal Street Studios (2016)

This unique volume addresses the idea of Jewish art and architecture by posing and responding to a series of questions. These begin with the unresolved conceptual definition of “Jewish” and continue with the historical observation that Abraham was called a Hebrew; Moses and David were Israelites; Ezra was a Judaean--terms different from the terms “Jew” and “Jewish.” Where ought one to place Israelite and Judaean objects within the understanding of Jewish art and architecture? The narrative further asks: when one uses the phrase “Jewish art and architecture,” is the reference the work of art or the identity of the artist? Is the criterion subject, style, symbol, purpose? Is it the artist’s convictions—does he or she need to be consciously trying to make “Jewish” art? Does an artist who converts into or out of Judaism suddenly begin or cease to make Jewish art?
Against the background of these questions, the narrative follows a trajectory that moves from the Israelite period to the present day, and carries from the Middle East to Europe, Asia, North Africa, and South and North America. It is the journey, not the arrival that is important. Through the presentation and analysis of over a thousand works in diverse media—more than 700 of which are depicted—the author continuously addresses the ways in which artworks and artists do and/or do not fit comfortably into the rubric “Jewish art” or “Jewish architecture.” In the end there is no absolute definition that will apply simply across such a vast and lush realm of creativity. Perhaps this is the point, however. For asking questions without easy answers or without answers at all may be the consummate Jewish art.


  • Jews on Trial

Jews on Trial: Judges, Juries, Prosecutors and Defendants from the Era of Jesus to Our Own Time

Eshel (2013)

From the Gospel account of Jesus' trial and punishment to medieval Blood Libels, from the notorious Dreyfus Affair to the story of Leo Frank's trial and eventual lynching, and from the State of Israel's trial and execution of Nazi Adolph Eichmann to Jonathan Pollard's closed-door trial and ongoing incarceration, it seems that the Jew, one way or another, is always on trial in the courtroom of journalistic and historiographic examination, whether as the accused, the accuser, the jury or the judge.


  • Embracing the World

Embracing the World: Fetullah Gulen's Thought and Its Relationship to Jalaluddin Rumi and Others

Tughra Books (2013)

This book is not a comprehensive study of Rumi and Gülen, but it seeks to explore the places where the thought of the one is echoed in the thinking of the other, either overtly or indirectly—and to note ways in which the opposite is true: that Gülen diverges from Rumi. The book is also seeking to suggest some of the larger contexts in which the thinking of both resides. Given the wide-ranging aspects of their respective writings, it should not be surprising if, minimally, we can find important foundation stones in both philosophy and theology in the edifices that they each construct.

  • Gulen Movement

Preventing Violence and Achieving World Peace: The Contributions of the Gulen Movement

Peter Lang (2013)

How can we address the seemingly endless conflicts in the world, particularly those arising from misunderstandings of Islam by both Muslims and non-Muslims? "Preventing Violence and Achieving World Peace: The Contributions of the Gulen Movement" presents the essays of eight scholars who consider the diverse ways in which the Guelen Movement or hizmet (service to others) - inspired by contemporary Turkish social philosopher Fetullah Guelen - has worked to answer this question. Drawing from various intellectual and theological sources, particularly Sufism, these essays indicate multiple instances of positive interfaith and/or multicultural dialogue. In addition, they consider how the writings of Guelen and the works of the Guelen Movement, through an extensive program of education and communication, have contributed significantly to efforts that oppose violence and shape universal peace.

  • The Glory of Ukraine

The Glory of Ukraine: Golden Treasures and Lost Civilizations

Foundation for International Arts and Education (2010)

This book offers sumptuous images covering over 6,000 years of history and culture from the territory of Ukraine. All the items shown and discussed - from pottery to weapons to jewelry to religious artifacts - derive from the PlaTar collections in Kiev. The book was published by the Foundation in confunction with an exhibition of the same name (See the Exhibition page of this website.

  • Untangling the Web

Untangling the Web

Bartleby (2011)

This book offers a concise yet detailed overview of the complex issues that have defined the Middle East for thousands of years: religion, politics, ethnicity, nationality and economics as individual threads of complication interwoven with threads of conflicting and confusing definitions, aspirations and interferences. This is a guide to the morass that offers essential background to understanding the present realities in the region, and is accessible to anyone.

  • Fixing the World

Fixing the World: Jewish American Painters in the Twentieth Century

University Press of New England (2009)

Focusing on a dazzling array of work by over eighty artists, Dr. Soltes explores themes ranging from the trials of immigration, depictions of urban life and politics, renderings of the Holocaust, and the spiritual yearnings of contemporary feminist painters. Despite such dramatic differences in content, he illuminates a common thread among these paintings - the concept of tikkun olam - of repairing or fixing the world.

  • Mysticism in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam: Searching for Oneness

Mysticism in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam: Searching for Oneness

Rowman and Littlefield (2009)

This unique volume presents the common roots, divergences and convergences of mysticism in the Jewish, Christian and Muslim traditions. It offers both a conceptual discussion—what is mysticism within religion? what are its goals and purposes? what are its basic methods?—and a historical sweep that carries from the Bible to the modern era. The final chapter offers interesting insights into a handful of contemporary works of literature, visual art and film as a demonstration of the ongoing search for oneness with the One in an age far less secular than one might suppose.

  • Our Sacred Signs

Our Sacred Signs: How Jewish, Christian, and Muslim Art Draw from the Same Source

Basic Books (2005)

This unusual volume examines a fascinating array of visual images to suggest three fundamental ideas. One, that the visual traditions within Judaism, Christianity and Islam are linked to each other in myriad ways, even as each form of faith refracts the symbolism of such linked imagery according to its own specific spiritual needs. Two, that all three traditions draw from conceptual and visual issues and ideas that pre-date any and all of them. Three, that the impulse to explore and express the abstract and ultimately unfathomable realm of divinity in visual terms, both directly and through indirect symbols, continues into the modern era and up to the present day.

  • Art Across the Ages

Art Across the Ages DVD series (The Teaching Company)(DVD-ROM)

The Teaching Company (2008)

This unique group of 48 lavishly illustrated lectures covers the sweep of primarily Western art in half-hour sessions. It was taped for the Teaching Company's "Ourstanding Professors" series.

  • The Ashen Rainbow

The Ashen Rainbow

Eshel Books (2007)

This splendid collection of essays considers much of the range of ways in which, by paradox, the ineffably destructive Holocaust has, particularly in the last forty years, provoked an outpouring of creative responses to it. From the prose words of Elie Wiesel and the poetry of Nobel Prize-winner Nellie Sachs to a range of media that extend beyond words: music, visual art, theater and film, humans have striven to record, combat  and later to explore if not explain the massive trauma of the Holocaust. The essays were written over the course of twenty years and may be read together or individually.

  • Heilige Zeichen

Heilige Zeichen

Parthas Verlag (2007)

This well-crafted translation into German of Our "Sacred Signs", includes more illustrations (most of them in color) than are found in the original English-language version.

  • On the Edge

Jewish Artists: On the Edge

Sherman Asher (2005)

A path-breaking discussion of the myriad ways in which Jewish artists pushed against the envelope of art toward the end of the twentieth and beginning of the twenty-first centuries. The thesis of this book is that Jewish artists are more often than not on the cutting edge of artistic thinking, contrary to a still-prevailing stereotype that assumes that Jews shy away from visual art or produce shlock.

The Life and Legacy of the Roman Empire, Parts 1 and 2 (Teaching Company) (Audio Cassette)

The Teaching Company (1994)

Twenty illustrated, half-hour lectures for the Teaching Company on the Roman world, covering general history, art, literature and music.

  • National Treasures of Georgia

National Treasures of Georgia: Art and Civilisation Through the Ages

Philip Wilson (2003)

A stimulating exploration of the richness of Georgian culture going back through eight thousand years. In particular, metallurgy, pottery, illuminated manuscripts and textiles from the Neolithic period to the early twentieth-century modernist era are discussed. Essays by 21 scholars from around the world are included, together with stunning illustrations.

Other titles on

  • Art and Soul

Art and Soul

Chautauqua Institution (2005)

This is a lecture in the Chautauqua Institution of Religion's "Great Lecture Library" (CD-Rom). Other lectures by Dr. Soltes are also available directly from the Chautauqua Institution.

Earth, Fire, Water and Wind: The Ceramics of Otto Natzler

Bnai Brith Books (1992)

This brief work—based on the retrospective exhibition of the same name that took place in the mid-1990s at the B’nai B’rith Klutznick National Jewish Museum—discusses the extraordinary work of Otto Natzler, an Austrian-born chemist turned ceramist, who over the course of sixty years developed thousands of unique glazes. These were first devised for the pots thrown by his first wife, Gertrud, but after her death were directed to the handsome hand-built pots that Natzler himself began to create.

Ideas in Western Culture: The Medieval and Renaissance World (The SuperStar Teacher's Series) (Audio Cassette)

The Teaching Company (1995)

Sixteen illustrated, half-hour lectures for the Teaching Company on the Medieval and Renaissance world, covering general history, art, literature and music.

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