THE WISDOM OF ISRAEL: An Anthology by Lewis -- Ed. Browne


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A selection of writings of the Jews through the ages, which emphasize that ""mundane, humane, ethical"" aspects which Browne considers the ""hallmark of Wisdom"". Part I is drawn from what we know as The Old Testament, but Browne's editorial notes give one a feeling that the Scriptures were a part of a more or less continuous flow of Israel's utterances, -- poetic, exhortatory, contemplative, etc. The Apocrypha too has been tapped, along with wisdom of early Rbbin, of Jews who had come under Greek influence, on to Josephus that tortured man. Selections made from the New Testament are chosen for their essential Jewishness, whether the writers were Jesus, Paul or James. Part IV is taken from the Talmudic Period, when homeless Jews were given the ""how"" of continued life and identity. Then followed the Medieval period, and cultural revolution; scholars were intent on reconciling Greek logic and Hebrew belief and eventually Christian ideas -- this was Israel's Golden Age; philosophers, scholars, poets, religious teachers are represented. Then, with Turkish barbarism and Christian bigotry rampant, Jews turned inward again, to traditional lore, for 500 years:- mysticism, the primacy of ethics, a certain classic wisdom persisted, despite violence of persecution. Forerunner of the modern period was Spin, who exercised extraordinary influence over subsequent development of thought. In the Hasidic tales of this period are bits of folklore paralleling folklore of other peoples other times. Came the modern period -- the ghetto walls were down -- many prominent Jews were Jewish solely through birth, their wisdom was of the world. But Browne has found enough in Moses Mendelssohn and Heine, in Zangwill and Felix Adler, in Sholem Asch, to link today with yesterday. Part of this section reflects the trend toward assimilation; toward Zionism; and three sections take cognizance of the practices of orthodox Jews, the eth of conservative Jews, the prayers of liberal Jews....And so -- through extracts from ""the wisdom of the Jews"", linked by Browne's revealing editorial notes, one gets a feeling of the vastness of the literature, the teachings, the philosophy, the agelessness of the faith of the Hebrews. Exceedingly valuable source book for teachers and rabbis -- and for leaders of all faiths.

Pub Date: June 25th, 1945
Publisher: Random House