Page 114 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 28

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abound in passages that question God's way and wrestle with the
paradox of man’s inhumanity to man. For these themes he invoked
the Genesis tales, which serve as the subject matter of his “Ancient
Elegies.” He utilizes the Creation story to explain the aberrations
of 20th century man. In the spirit of Kabbalistic doctrine, he
avers that during Creation a fragment of primordial chaos entered
the Tree of Knowledge and infected man. In this manner evil
became part of the dialectic of human existence, leading man to
the brink of disaster since the days of Cain and Abel, of Lamech
and Noah. Efros deftly reinterprets the ancient tales as a symbolic
augury of the conflicts which agitate modern man.
Contributions to Jewish Philosophy
Efros has made numerous contributions to Jewish philosophy
through authoritative studies and monographs published over the
years in various scholarly organs. These include
Proceedings of
the American Academy for Jewish Research
and the
Jewish Quar-
terly Review.
His critical edition of Maimonides’ “Treatise on
Logic” appeared in volume V III of the
Proceedings
(1937-38). The
Columbia University Oriental Series published his
The Problem
of Space in Medieval Jewish Philosophy
(1917) and his
Philo-
sophical Terms in the Moreh Nebukhim
(1924); both volumes
were reprinted by the AMS Press in 1966. Several of his previ-
ously published studies have been issued in Hebrew translation,
together with additions and subsequent researches.
The first of Efros’ philosophical volumes,
Ha-Philosophia ha-
Ivrit ha-Atikah,
published in 1965, appeared also in English
under the title,
Ancient Hebrew Philosophy: A Study in Meta-
physics and Ethics
(Wayne State University Press, 1964) and
earned him the Jewish Book Council Frank and Ethel S. Cohen
Award for a book on Jewish thought. In this volume the author
views the development of Jewish thought within a dialectical
framework of two polar concepts—holiness and glory. He utilized
sources from the Bible through medieval Jewish thought to dem-
onstrate the continuing tension between these two concepts which
for him undergird the Jewish religious experience.
Efros’ two subsequent philosophical volumes, published under
the general title
Ha-Philosophiah ha-Yehudit b’Ime ha-Beinaim
(Medieval Jewish Philosophy), are devoted to
Systems and Prob-
lems
(1965) and
Terms and Concepts
(1969). The former com-
prises a series of studies on the thought systems of Saadya Gaon,
Judah Halevi and Maimonides, and also incorporates a translation
of “The Problem of Space in Medieval Jewish Philosophy.” The
second volume offers Hebrew versions of Efros' previously pub-
lished “Philosophical Terms in the Moreh Nebukhim” and