Page 21 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 14

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casual footnote that a portion of a pre-i7׳rj/־Destruction book of
Leviticus has been found! And whether we accept M. Dupont-
Sommer’s views or the even more exciting theory of the Reader
in Rabbinics at Cambridge who thinks that the library is Jewish-
Christian and that at least one now famous document contains
references to the central figures of the New Testament, we have
ample opportunity to follow out ideas — Jewish ideas — which
have touched and influenced the world, and, incidentally, to
sharpen our wits in a field where even scholars disagree.
This leads me to note that the new finds, and the controversies
over their history and significance, only serve to emphasize, what
is sufficiently obvious from other considerations too, that we Jews
ought to interest ourselves in, and know more about, the doc-
uments and doctrine of Christianity. I shall not labor the point
that its authors were Jews and that its subject-matter — how man
should live— (although not necessarily its conclusions) is Jewish.
I only ask you to remember how closely the new finds, the Apoc-
rypha and the so-called Pseudepigrapha, the New Testament, the
writings of Philo (available in the old Bohn version and in the Loeb
library), the works of Josephus, the earliest Church Fathers, the
Midrashim, both Halachic and Aggadic, and the Mishnah and
Tosaphta, all hang together and illumine one another in the
panorama of Jewish and world history. And this epoch was crucial
not only in the social and political, but also, and far more impor-
tantly, in the
religious
history of Jewry; for the understanding of
which by English readers we have the incomparable
Judaism in
the First Centuries of the Christian Era
, by the great student of
Rabbinics and the history of religion, the late George Foot Moore,
of Harvard, a book which I hope will be found in many copies on
the shelves of all our community libraries.
I have had several occasions to mention Josephus. Anyone
interested in Jewish psychological types should read and re-read
Josephus’
The Wars of the Jews.
To one who has been at all mixed
up in modern Jewish public affairs it reads, in its majestic way, like
a contemporary satire. But Josephus is more than
The Wars of
the Jews
; and I earnestly draw your attention to the second part of
his short work
Against Apion.
(It is not available, unfortunately,
in Everyman, but it forms part of the first volume of the Loeb
edition by the late St. J. Thackeray). I t is strangely ignored by
Jewish writers but it contains one of the best accounts ever written
of the genius of Judaism. I t is extraordinary how firmly the essen-
tials are grasped and how clearly and boldly they are expressed.
I say, turn to the
second
part. Scholars of course will send you to
the first with its citations from long-forgotten authors, and so
ROTH GREAT JEWISH BOOKS: OLD AND NEW
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