The Jewish People – Their History & Their Religion
By Rabbi David J Goldberg & Rabbi John D Rayner
The first part offers a survey of Jewish history and literature. The second part presents what the preface describes as “a thematic analysis of the teachings and practices of Judaism”.
For the overwhelming majority of Jews under Roman rule, Jesus of Nazareth was just one more tragic, fallible victim of the struggle against an oppressive regime. In this scholarly history by two London rabbis of the Progressive branch of Judaism, unfolding events are interpreted as they were felt and lived by the Jewish people. Ever since the French Revolution, when Judaism lost its hold as an all-embracing amalgam of faith and behavior, Jews’ responses to the modern world have ranged from conversion or assimilation to fervent nationalism. The narrative, alternately brisk and dry, helps explain how a tiny, persecuted, exiled people maintained a distinctive cultural identity and sense of mission. In extensive sections on ethics, belief, literature and worship, the authors take a refreshingly unconventional approach. Reminding us that “Old Testament” is a Christian term alien to Judaism, they reexamine the Jewish Bible’s sense of the cosmos as a unitary whole. Their view of Judaism as a set of mitzvoth (commandments), a code of conduct that each believer must rediscover, informs this challenging study.
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