JUDAISM: A Portrait by Leon Roth

JUDAISM: A Portrait

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While this book is intended for the thoughtful reader (Jew or non-Jew) concerned in acquiring a better understanding of the meaning of Judaism, it should be recognized that this is no quick and easy approach to the subject. Professor Roth is one of the great contemporary religious scholars. He approaches the subject of his study from a rich background of authoritative knowledge of Jewish philosophers and teachers. He goes back to beginnings --Abraham, Moses, the earliest oral and written laws, the codification and formulation of thought and procedure in the Misnah, the Talmud, the Torah, the findings of medieval rabbinic authorities. Maimonides and his vast contribution to the growth of Judaism is dominant throughout, but Roth shows how the need for what Maimonides contributed grew out of the antiquity of the systems-legislative and moral and ceremonial, the trumpet call of prophecy, most needed in the early days of the Diaspora, the impact of Greek thought, of divergent faiths and so on. The Bible was not alone a self-sufficient witness to the nature of Judaism. How it has been used is explored- for instruction, for devotion, for worship. To all this Maimonides brought structure and system. Roth presents too the contribution made by others, such as ben Zakkai, Hallevi, and so on. From this rich historical background he goes on to weigh the affirmation of the nature of God, of faith, of fundamental principles, of morality. Final chapters deal with the Prayer Book and its role, a summary of general teachings, on Judaism and the Jews and conversely The Jews and Judaism. The real test he sees today in America and in modern Israel. Can the absolute character of moral law survive? A challenging- but not an easy- book.

Pub Date: Jan. 12th, 1960
Publisher: Viking