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Through the late Rabbi Baeck's Reichsvertretung leadership, his heroic struggles on behalf of European Jewry against the Nazis, are well known, at least among the devout, his writing, which clearly belongs in the company of Cohen, Buber and Rosenzweig, is not. After reading this one-volume edition of his two last projects, one can understand why. For Baeck's approach, even with his historical and philogical apparatus, is really something other than scholarly ""objectivity."" It is the man himself, an exalted commitment, a bearing witness to the spirit of the race, to the meaning of the Biblical word. Conceptually his counters are the Covenant, Exodus, and holy places (Sinai, Canaan), against the framework of Ancient Israel, The Talmudic era, the Middle Ages, and the modern poch; and correspondingly, the encounters with paganism, Christianity, Islam, and the scientific temper. Everything is seen sub specie acternitatis. The phrase ""two-foldness"" (e.g. faith and action) occurs throughout; it also means challenge and response (like Tlah, not Toynbee), the continual renewal of the past in the present. For Book, then, the Jewish experience allegorically represents all humanity, ""but around this people there is more mystery than...around others...more history has been assigned to this people than to any other people"", etc. Equivocal statements; but Book's studies are studies of a people's soul; his intellectual immersions therefore are theological and, to that extent, they are profound.

Pub Date: Jan. 28th, 1965
Publisher: Hold, Rinehart & Winston