Page 84 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 3

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he does it by means of bland and unqualified remarks about “ accepting” Christ
and Christianity.
Asch is still a powerful creative force. In moments of illumination and integrity
he may still realize that his artistic achievements will not be enhanced by his
playing the part of an Apostle, tha t his flattery of the Christian public may be-
come repugnant even to them and that it does not pay in the seventh decade of
one life’s to play the artist-in-love-with-himself even on an international stage.
He may still emerge from the net which has enmeshed him.
— M e n a h e m B o r a i s h a i n
Congress Weekly
B y D
u f f
o o p e r
New York,
a r p e r s
292 pages.
Duff Cooper’s volume is not a novel, though it reads more interestingly than
if it were one. I t is a straight-forward, beautifully written account of David’s
life, as described in the books of Samuel and Kings. The author stands completely
upon traditional ground, even utilizing the Psalms as revelations of David’s emo-
tions, though he is aware of the modern scholarly reluctance to ascribe most of
them to David.
The critically trained scholar will admire the success with which contradictions
in the Biblical sources are harmonized and difficulties are dissolved through the
psychological finesse of the author. Thus, according to Sam. 16:18 ff., David comes
to Saul’s court as a musician and becomes a royal retainer. The next chapter,
however, describes David’s victory over Goliath as that of an unknown country
lad, following which (17:56, 58) Saul, who has obviously never seen him before,
asks, “Whose son is the lad?” Modern scholarship recognizes tha t we have here
two alternative accounts of David’s rise to royal favor, placed consecutively in the
text, where a modern historian would have relegated one to a footnote. Duflf
Cooper utilizes both accounts by describing Saul as in the throes of a mental
depression, so that, while he recognizes David as the young minstrel at court, he
cannot recall his name and he therefore strives to refresh his memory by inquiring
of Abner (p. 55).
Scattered through the book are simple yet profound observations on human
nature, manifestly the products of a career of action enriched by contemplation and
sympathy. Such are the comments on old age and children, the responsibilities
of public office (p. 14), the excitement of a battle and the inevitable let-down of
victory (p. 26), the development of a man’s character (p. 42), the rarity of self-
less natures like that of Jonathan (p. 61), the this-worldly character of Hebrew
religion (p. 141), and the sad wisdom of old age (p. 158). All these and'many more
are written with a deceptive simplicity that conceals the high art of the author.
I t is true that the trajectory of David’s life, with its bright ascendancy, its glorious
noon-day and its tragic dusk, offers matchless material for the artist and the creative
historian. Moreover, the subsidiary figures, Samuel, Saul, Jonathan, Michal,
Bath-sheba, Nathan, Absalom and Barzilai constitute an immortal gallery of
human nature. Yet it is no more than a deserved tribute to say that Duff Cooper’s
work is worthy of its great theme.
The book bears a noble dedication: “This book is dedicated to the Jewish
people, to whom the world owes the Old and New Testaments, and much else in the
realm of beauty and knowledge, a debt tha t has been ill repaid.” Duff Cooper’s
“David” is a valuable installment in the repayment of tha t debt.
— R o b e r t G o r d i s i n
The Reconstructionist
Leader of a United People.
B y R
og er s
e igh
a n d
homa s
B . C
a s t a i n
New York,
o u b l e d a y
- D
o r a n
310 pages.
Leader of a United People
by McVeigh and Castain, is another
sympathetic reconstruction of a Biblical hero, in this instance, the successor of
Moses and the leader of the Hebrew conquest of Palestine. In contrast to DufF
Cooper, it is much more conscious of modern research, the problems raised and the
solutions advanced by contemporary scholarship. But the authors, in their anxiety
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