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Dimont's extremely popular Jews, God and History (1962) ended with a cabalistic-Hegelian historical schema ""in three acts"": Jewish unification, the Diaspora, and ""restoration."" Here Dimont takes it up, complete with ""Cosmic Director,"" and runs through what is essentially the same historical survey, with the same desire to transcend ""a saga of specialized suffering,"" and the very same kickoff view of the Jews as the only exception to the decline-of-civilizations rule -- owing to their flexibility. Again we hear how the Maccabean war was caused not by a tyrannical Antiochus but by a struggle between pro- and anti-Hellenizing Jews; how the Sadducees were to the right of the Pharisees; again we hear about the fights between cloture and amendment of the Mosaic codes and commentaries, about heresies up through Karaism, about the Marranos, not forcibly converted. Again Dimont closes with the possibility of Judaism's becoming ""a new spiritual center for the world."" There is less about some figures like Ezra (disarmingly dismissed here as ""nothing but a chauvinist"") and Dimont vaguely underlines the Jews' independent rights, wealth and status in the feudal world without going into the post-10th-century persecutions he at least mentioned in Jews, God and History. New bits include the possibility that the exodus from Egypt was really an expulsion, a contrast between Hosean nationalism and Isaiahan universalism, and some Passover-plot speculations. In general, there is a somewhat greater emphasis on the Jews' impact on alien cultures -- beginning with the Semitic Cretans' influence on Greece. Much of this material, it seems, could easily have been incorporated into the first book, and some will argue that instead of a ""sequel"" an expanded edition of Jews, God and History was in order. Nevertheless, it seems likely that Dimont's readership will return for another trip.

Pub Date: March 1st, 1971
Publisher: World