Note: Blue highlighting has been applied to the words Elizabeth Dilling underlined in her exhibits. The text is unchanged from the original.
THE MORRIS LOEB SERIES
THE SOCIOLOGICAL BACKGROUND
The Pharisees constituted a religious Order of singular influence in the history of civilization. Judaism, Christianity, and Mohammedanism all derive from this ancient Palestinian Society; and through their influence in the preservation and advancement of learning, it has become the cornerstone of modern civilization. Even Buddhism and Confucianism, which alone among other religions can compare with it in depth of ethical teaching, fall far short of it in the spread of their doctrines. Fully half of the world adheres to Pharisaic faiths; only one fourth as many people follow Confucius, and less than one sixth as many are Buddhists.
What particularly distinguishes the Pharisees from all other religious groups, is the fact that they achieved this influence without sacrifice of their individuality, or compromise of their principles. Zoroastrianism, which set out to be a world religion, remained the cult of Persia; Pharisaism, which cherished no such ambitions, was adopted by people thousands of miles from Palestine. Clearly the Simeon ben Shattahs and Judah ben Tabbais of the Palestinian academies served the world in a more profound manner than they themselves imagined. They considered themselves teachers of Israel alone; they were destined to become the mentors of mankind. The ideals which Paul and his fellow Apostles carried with them out of Pharisaism into the world proved of more lasting importance in history than
the battles of any general, or the discoveries of any philosopher. Time came when the researches of Aristotle were forgotten, and the conquests of Caesar were rendered futile; but never in the last nineteen centuries has the influence of Pharisaism ceased to be felt wherever in the western world civilized people have thought and worked.
Even more astonishing than the influence of Paul and the Apostles on the Roman world, was that of Mohammed, the camel-driver of Mecca, whom a few neighboring Jews and Christians transformed into the founder of one of the world's foremost civilizations. Neither his time nor his personality might have seemed particularly suitable for the mission he undertook. The rabbinical schools in Palestine had reached a low ebb; and those of Babylonia had just completed the redaction of the Talmud and were passing through a critical transformation. Rome was at the nadir of its influence; and Constantinople was ruled by bigoted obscurantists who had driven the schools of learning into distant Persia.
Yet there was sufficient energy even in these ashes of ancient Pharisaism to kindle a fire in the heart of the Arab, which blazing forth in a mighty flame was within a century to illumine the whole world. Civilization, which internecine war had destroyed in Europe, found a new home prepared for it in its most ancient cradle, that narrow ribbon of fertile land, lining the Tigris-Euphrates, the eastern coast of the Mediterranean, and the Nile. In time immemorial, this singular strip of territory, the earliest scene of recorded human conflict and intercourse, had been allegorically telescoped into a compact Garden of Eden, the home of Adam, the ancestor of the human race. The energies which Pharisaism called out of the Arab Peninsula, brought new life to
this ancient country and made it once more the center of world thought, commerce, and even government. The Arab, last of Mediterranean races to be brought into the complex of civilized life, became its focal center. The ignorant idolater became an ardent monotheist, as well as an avid student and an indefatigable teacher. From the Pyrenees to the Indus, his disciples studied Arabic translations of ancient Greek mathematical, medical, and philosophical works, and added their own comments to them. Europeans, entirely cut off from ancient classical literature, had to rely on Latin versions of these Arabic and kindred Hebrew texts. Thomas Aquinas, Albertus Magnus, and Duns Scotus, three of the mightiest of medieval minds and the builders of Europe's intellectual renaissance, were the disciples of Avicenna, Averroes, and the Jewish philosopher, Maimonides.
The spread of Pharisaism to the ends of the Roman Empire and throughout the Arabic world was not due, as is commonly supposed, to the lack of opposing forces. Two strong philosophical movements- Stoicism and Epicureanism — each practically a religion, had tens of thousands of adherents throughout the Roman Empire. The Stoics, appealing primarily to Reason and Justice, had brilliant exponents of their doctrine in the Greek slave, Epictetus, and the Roman Emperor, Marcus Aurelius. The Epicureans, relying on the natural attractiveness of their hedonistic doctrine, had their poetical sweet-singing Lucretius. More dangerous to infant Christianity than either of these movements, was the dualistic religion of Mithras, which as late as the third century C. E., challenged the advance of the Church in almost every province of the Empire. Of Persian origin, this religion, with its concept of a cosmic battle
between Good and Evil, had a subtle fascination for the Roman legions. So powerful was this attraction, that a synthesis between the dogmas of Mithraism and those of Christianity was proposed in the form of Manichaeism; and that, too, had tens of thousands of adherents. Indeed Saint Augustine himself was for a time a follower of that faith.
The Arabic world offered Pharisaism no rivals of the type of Mithraism, Stoicism, or Epicureanism. Yet the difficulties which the doctrine had to overcome among the nomads might well have seemed insuperable to the contemporary observer. The Arabs of the seventh century C.E. were involved in no such intellectual chaos as filled the Roman Empire at the beginning of the Christian Era. In spite of the conversion of scattered tribes to Judaism and Christianity, the nomads generally were loyal to the idolatry of their race. And the ignorant, self-indulgent, uxorious Mohammed, who became the apostle to the Arabs, was no Paul of Tarsus either in his intellectual or in his moral attainments. The result of these difficulties is still evident in Mohammedanism, which has no share in the Jewish-Christian doctrines of world peace or the equality of the sexes. But these deficiencies, grave as they are, do not lessen the marvel of the rapid, dramatic, though necessarily partial, victory of Pharisaism in the Arabic world. It was a magnificent achievement to have brought the desire for learning and the appreciation of the ethical life and of God to the nomads, though they were not won over to a complete acceptance of Pharisaic dogma.
The victorious energy of Pharisaism did not inhere, as is commonly supposed, merely in the doctrine of the Resurrection. This doctrine had been held by the Egyptians and the Zoroastrians, long before the rise of Pharisaism; yet
neither of them was able to convert the world. And the Pharisees, themselves, drew most of their converts not from the gullible peasantry, but from the sceptical townsfolk, who might have ventured to doubt the reality of an eschatological promise.
Pharisaism won its world victory, as it won its initial victory in Palestine, not through a promise, but by a fulfilment. Its doctrines did not offer redemption; they brought it. They were in effect an announcement of "freedom to all the earth." The submerged were the equals of the patricians;* women were the equals of men; slaves were the equals of masters. All alike were children of God, created in His Image. The mere declaration of such principles aroused the latent sense of human dignity in the breast of the downtrodden, and he gratefully embraced the faith which brought him such salvation and comfort.
The urban plebeian responded to the call more readily than the rural serf, who was less conscious of enslavement. The women of the city responded more readily than the men for a subtler reason. They intuitively discovered in Pharisaism that amalgam of urban perspicacity and rural tenderness which had a natural appeal to them. A complete analysis of this aspect of Pharisaism is impossible in the limited space of this Foreword or even this book; it can only be discussed in passing, below and in some of the relevant chapters of the text.
The Arabic world which had no metropolitan plebeians, and where the women were too degraded and enslaved to share in any part of cultural life, was also attracted by the
Pharisaic principle of human dignity; but, as we have seen, it placed its own interpretation on the concept. Human equality was limited to believers in Mohammed, and to males. The women were to be kept as soulless tools of their husbands, and the unbelievers were to be exterminated or enslaved.
No wonder that such a mighty force, as Pharisaism proved itself to be, had from the beginning both intense admirers and bitter opponents, but few neutral observers or objective students. The brilliant light which emanated from the East either attracted or repelled men; it never left them undisturbed. The royal family of Adiabene became converted to Pharisaism, and some of its members left their kingdom to reside in Jerusalem; Aquila, a Roman noble, became a disciple of the rabbinical academies; Shemaya, the foremost Pharisaic teacher of the age immediately before Herod, was of pagan descent. Frequently the Romans who became converted to Palestinian religion were quite unaware of the denominational differences which loomed so large in Jerusalem. Like some modern Chinese, they could not distinguish Judaism from Christianity, and considered them one faith. As a result, both Christianity and Judaism claim these converts as their own; but obviously it was the Pharisaism, common to both faiths, which won them.
So rapidly did Pharisaism spread in the palaces of Rome that the patricians became alarmed — not merely for their gods, but for themselves. The Romans were a tolerant people, but they drew the line at a religion which openly preached the equality of mankind and the futility and wickedness of war. Under the Emperor Tiberius the Jews were for a time driven from Rome; later they were made the
butt of satirical ridicule; and on occasion were forbidden to practice their faith. The Christians, whose proselytizing activity was more vigorous, were treated with correspondingly greater severity, especially after they were recognized as a separate sect. It is important to remember that it was no special detail in either Christian or Jewish practice or theology which evoked these harsh measures, but the Pharisaic teachings and spiritual energy which were shared by both. The Roman writer and general saw in the Jew and the Christian who were so ready and even eager to die for their faith, precisely what the earlier opponents of Pharisaism had seen in the undivided sect — a group of narrow-minded bigots.
For Pharisaism itself, the passage of the centuries has by no means removed the ancient stigma. To this day, the word "Pharisee" remains a byword; and is still interpreted in the Oxford English Dictionary as meaning, "a selfrighteous person; a formalist; a hypocrite."
The animosity reflected in this usage is not to be associated merely with the family quarrel between the early Christians and the main body of the Pharisees. It antedates the beginnings of Christianity; and indeed an early chronicler of Herod, whose words Josephus transcribes in his Antiquities (XVII, 2.4) records it. "For there was," he says, "a certain sect of Jews, who valued themselves highly upon the exact skill they had in the law of their fathers; and made men believe they were highly favored of God . . . These are those who are called the sect of the Pharisees." In the bitterness of conflict, it was natural for the early Christians to apply these epithets to their former fellows, who continued loyal to unaltered Pharisaism. Nevertheless, the Pharisee and the Christian remained sufficiently
close to regard one another with respect. Rabbi Eliezer ben Hyrcanus, one of the most orthodox of the sages, offered high praise to an interpretation of Scripture given by an early Christian (Aboda Zara 17a); Paul, after his conversion, still declared himself a Pharisee (Acts 23.6); Gamaliel, the head of the Pharisees, was praised for his learning and tolerance in saving the Apostles from punishment (ibid. 5.34); a devout Pharisee was declared by Jesus to be "not far from the Kingdom of God" (Mk. 12.34); and Jesus, himself, being asked what is the first of the commandments, replied, as might any other Pharisee, "Hear, O Israel; the Lord our God is one Lord" (ibid. 12.29).
Undoubtedly the Pharisees drew the energy which enabled them to remake world-thought, from the Prophets. The passionate call of Isaiah, the plaintive cry of Jeremiah, and the lofty exhortations of Deutero-Isaiah had at last struck a responsive chord in men's hearts. But what made the chord so responsive? While the present inquiry deals with the subject only indirectly, I believe it gives the answer to this question. Pharisaism was Prophecy in action; the difference is merely one between denunciation and renunciation. The kinship is more than ideological, however; it derives from the very nature and essence of the groups, for the Pharisees were drawn from the same social classes as the earlier prophetic following itself. The converts to prophecy among other classes might render it lip-service and even a certain measure of devotion; to the Pharisees the words of the ancient seers were like flames of fire out of their own hearts.
The true relation between Prophecy and Pharisaism is illuminated by the recurrence of the same phenomenon sixteen centuries later, in a country unknown to either
Prophets or Pharisees, the England of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Once more as in Palestine, during the eighth and third centuries B.C.E., there was gathered into a growing metropolis — London — a group of traders and artisans, capable of taking a cultural stand against the dominant city patricians, ecclesiastics, and country gentry. And once more did these plebeians feel the impact of prophetic exhortation, for the English translation of the Scriptures had just been made available to the people. And just as the impact of Prophecy on the market place of Jerusalem created Pharisaism; so its impact on the market place of London created Puritanism.
The Puritans did not, of course, recognize themselves as successors to the Pharisees; nor would they have wished to identify themselves with the ancient Order. Yet such is the power of circumstance that they were compelled to be Pharisees, in spite of themselves! Thomas Huxley, who could have known only part of the evidence for the kinship between Puritanism and Pharisaism, was able to recognize it, through the generosity of his spirit and his deep penetration. "Of all the strange ironies of history," he says, "perhaps the strangest is that the word `Pharisee' is current as a term of reproach among the theological descendants of the sect of Nazarenes who, without the martyr spirit of those primitive Puritans, would never have come into existence. They, like their historical successors our own Puritans, have shared the general fate of the poor wise men who save cities."
The researches into Pharisaism and Puritanism which have been made since Huxley's time, have confirmed this amazing intuition. In their indefatigable energy, in their devout piety, and in many aspects of their history, we are
continually discovering new points of resemblance between the purists of Jerusalem at the beginning of the Christian Era and those of London in the age of Elizabeth and the early Stuarts. A strong sense of duty; an astonishing talent for self-discipline; a hunger for learning; an inner, partially unrecognized, urge for freedom; a curious mixture of idealism and realism; and, above all, profound but carefully concealed affections; hatred of the ornate and devotion to the simple: these and many other attributes of mind and character mark Pharisaism and Puritanism as twin movements, though they were born in different countries and in utterly different times.
This resurgence of Pharisaism, in a somewhat different guise, is so important for an appreciation of the original Order, that it is appropriate to review, even cursorily, some of the evidence of kinship between the two movements. The two foremost literary figures of Puritanism (using the term in its broadest sense) in the seventeenth century were, of course, John Milton and John Bunyan, both of whom had a large admixture of Pharisaism in their thought. Milton may decry the rabbinic sages, and "ask the Talmudist what ails the modesty of his marginal Keri, that Moses and all the prophets cannot persuade him to pronounce the textual Chetiv," but the very Areopagitica in which he makes this charge is an argument for the intellectual freedom which is the basis of Pharisaism! His paradoxical sympathy for the rebel, as personified in Satan and his cohorts, and for authority as hypostasized in God, which helps to make Paradise Lost so moving an epic, was characteristic of the original Pharisaism. The Pharisees loved the Temple, but opposed the priests. The Pharisees could not, like the Sect of Damascus and the Christians, withdraw from the
Jerusalem ritual; and yet they would not have hesitated to call their contemporary clerics, as Milton did those of his day, "blind mouths"- bishops who do not see, and shepherds who consume their flocks.
John Bunyan rejects the "burden of the Law", but on every page of his Pilgrim's Progress reveals himself as a resurrected Pharisee. Christian struggling through the Slough of Despond or writhing in the hands of the Giant, Despair, might be a personification not only of Bunyan himself, but of a host of rabbinic students, who lived a millenium before him. The advice which Pappias gave Akiba, or that which Jose ben Kisma gave Hanina ben Teradyon, might have come verbatim from Worldly Wiseman. "This government of Rome has been appointed from Heaven," the "prudent" counsellors said. "You can see for yourself that she has destroyed God's Temple, and burned His city, and murdered His saints, and yet she flourishes. Why then do you not obey her decree, and desist from teaching the Torah to your disciples?" (Aboda Zara 18a). And when the ancient pilgrims replied with simple faith, "God will have mercy;" what comment would Worldly Wiseman have made, other than that of Jose ben Kisma, "I am talking common sense to you; and you say, `God will have mercy.'"
It is perhaps no coincidence that at one time in his life Bunyan actually fancied himself . an Israelite; and John Milton immersed himself deeply not only in the Hebrew Scriptures, but in rabbinic tradition as well.
Seen in the light of these facts, the curious affection of the seventeenth century pietists, generally, for the Hebrew language and even Hebrew nomenclature, assumes a new significance. The Hephzibahs and Mehatabels, the Leahs
and the Rachels, whose names we still find on old New England tombstones, prove that the inner spirit recognized the relationship with ancient Hebraism, even when the conscious mind denied it. It is even more striking that the opponents of Puritanism grasped its similarity to ancient Pharisaism. Ben Jonson does not hesitate to caricature his contemporary Puritan as "Rabbi Busy", and make him speak like a hair-splitting casuist. And the Oxford Dictionary which cites such irreverent remarks about the Pharisees, also quotes an early seventeenth century source where "Puritan" is used in the sense of "hypocritical, dissembling." As so often happens, the critical was accused of being hypercritical, and the hypercritical of being hypocritical.
The most striking resemblance between the Pharisees and the Puritans lay in their destiny. Both struggled to overcome the tendency toward luxury, licentiousness, and autocracy; both were driven by the logic of their views to extreme asceticism; both were accused of the divergent sins of profligacy and bigotry; both sought to retain the rural virtues of forthrightness and tenderness, together with the urban virtues of intellectualism and discipline; both became involved in civil wars; both discovered that force could not bring them anything but ultimate defeat; and, finally, both found their fulfilment, at least in a sense, not in the lands which gave them birth, but in distant countries, whither they were driven by the force of circumstance. The apogee of Pharisaism is the Talmud of Babylonia; that of Puritanism is the culture of New England.
The spread of a modified Pharisaism to the ends of the earth has fortunately not prevented the endurance throughout the centuries of the unchanged faith, in Rabbinic
Dilling Exhibit 2
Judaism. Pharisaism became Talmudism, Talmudism became Medieval Rabbinism, and Medieval Rabbinism be came Modern Rabbinism. But throughout these changes of name, inevitable adaptation of custom, and adjustment of Law, the spirit of the ancient Pharisee survives unaltered. When the Jew reads his prayers, he is reciting formulae prepared by pre-Maccabean scholars; when he dons the cloak prescribed for the Day of Atonement and Passover Eve, he is wearing the festival garment of ancient Jerusalem; when he studies the Talmud, he is actually repeating the arguments used in the Palestinian academies.
Nor is it merely the outer accoutrements of Pharisaism which have survived in his life; the spirit of the doctrine has remained quick and vital. The story of this achievement has not yet been fully told; it lies concealed in the history of the repeated persecutions to which the later bearers of Pharisaism were subjected. When ultimately the fragmentary record is pieced together, it will be discovered as an epic, replete with heroic adventure. From Palestine to Babylonia; from Babylonia to North Africa, Italy, Spain, France, and Germany; from these to Poland, Russia, and eastern Europe generally, ancient Pharisaism has wandered. In the midst of new conditions of life, faced with new worlds of thought, the disciples of the Pharisees have sought on the one hand to preserve the old, and on the other to create the new. Only with the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries did their energies begin to wane; and an unprecedented weakness appear in their academies. This was, however, but for the moment. The enlightenment of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries produced spirits of diverse types, yet united in their common loyalty to the ancient teaching, in Rabbi Israel Baal Shem Tob (ca. 1700-1760) the founder of
Dilling Exhibit 3
the modern Hasidic movement, Rabbi Elijah Gaon of Wilna (1720-1797) the founder of the critical school of Talmudical exegesis, and Moses Mendelssohn (1729-1786), the creator of a renewed synthesis between traditional Judaism and the learning of the West.
As recently as the latter half of the nineteenth century, there were rabbis who in their mode of life, in their courage, and in their realization that the Law was given man for his happiness, were the equals of the greatest of the Pharisaic or the Talmudic sages. I am especially mindful of the lives and activities of two of these men, because my father, to whose inspiration I am so much indebted, in his youth stood in close touch with them — Rabbi Isaac Elhanan Spektor (1817-1896), a statesman-scholar, and Rabbi Israel Salanter (ca. 1800-1883), a saintly ascetic, and founder of the Musar (ethicist) movement in Lithuanian Judaism.
A number of incidents recorded of the lives of these men indicate how nearly they approached the ancient Pharisees in their human pity and realization that the Law was given to man for his happiness and his development. It is impossible to cite these stories here, but reference may be made to the excellent biography of Rabbi Israel Salanter in Professor Louis Ginzberg's Students, Saints and Scholars, and to the brief statement about Rabbi Isaac Elhanan Spektor in the Jewish Encyclopedia.
The lives of these men, and numerous others like them, demonstrate the enduring importance which attaches to Pharisaism as a religious movement. Yet it would have been alien to the purpose of this book to consider the Order from this point of view. This inquiry is essentially historical and sociological, seeking to determine how the Pharisees came into existence, and what their distinctive teachings
were. It is based primarily on the objective, almost scientific, approach of the Talmud, and its kindred writings. The apologetic literature which the long series of polemics against Pharisaism has evoked from its friends, has no prototype in the Talmud. With engaging candor, that ancient work informs us that there are seven types of Pharisee, only one of whom attains the ideal of "serving God out of love for Him" (Sotah 22b). It cites, with approval, the warning of the dying King, Alexander Jannaeus, to his wife: "Have no fear of the Sadducees, nor yet of the Pharisees. But beware the hypocrites who do the work of Zimri, and seek the reward of Phineas!" (ibid.). In several instances the arguments of both the Pharisees and the Sadducees relating to moot questions of law are cited, and we are enabled to see the Sadducean teaching from their point of view.
No less significant for the purpose of this study than the Talmud's judicial approach to the Pharisees, is its objective evaluation of city and rural life. If one marries a woman from the country, it rules, one cannot compel her to remove to the city, "for life in the cities is hard" (Ketubot 110b). Nor, conversely, if one marries a woman from the city can one compel her to remove to the country, "for everything is available in the city" (ibid.). Ezekiel, who described the Heavenly Chariot in detail, was "like a villager who sees the King;" Isaiah who used a few simple sentences for his theophany, was "like a townsman who sees the King" (Hagigah 13b).
While these statements are almost unique in their judicial objectivity, the recognition of rural-urban differences is by no means rare in ancient literature. The Scriptures, significantly, attribute the construction of the first city to Cain, the fratricide (Gen. 4.16); and that of the second city to
the arrogant men who built the Tower of Babel (Gen. 11.4). Classical writers exhaust their vocabulary in descriptions of the mendacity, cowardice, and pusillanimity of city-folk. Aristophanes makes the simple farmer, Strepsiades, amuse us by ascribing all of his misfortunes to marriage with a city wife:
"Ah! then I married — I a rustic — her
A fine town-lady, niece of Megacles.
A regular, proud, luxurious, Coesyra …"
"Well, when at last to me and my good woman
This hopeful son was born, our son and heir,
Why then we took to wrangle on the name.
She was for giving him some knightly name,
`Callippides,' `Xanthippus,' or `Charippus:'
I wished `Pheidonides,' his grandsire's name.
Thus for some time we argued: till at last
We compromised it in Pheidippides.
This boy she took, and used to spoil him, saying,
Oh! when you are driving to the Acropolis, clad
Like Megacles, in your purple; whilst I said
Oh! when the goats you are driving from the fells,
Clad like your father, in your sheepskin coat.
Well, he cared nought for my advice, but soon
A galloping consumption caught my fortunes."
The tirade against the city did not, of course, end with the ancient world; it has continued practically until our own day. The poet Cowley, like Varro and Rabelais before him, notes that:
"God the first garden made, and the first city, Cain."
Our own Thomas Jefferson echoes the ancient Cato's praise of the farmer; and in the middle of the Victorian age, Betsey Trotwood vigorously asserted her conviction that a chicken bought in a London shop might be anything, but could hardly be a fowl.
In our own generation, Oswald Spengler devoted two massive volumes to the proof that urbanization means the destruction of the world, and predicted that western civilization would fall under the weight of city life.
As we glance through this literature, of which only the smallest fragment can be cited here, it becomes clear that the rural-urban conflict is one of the few constants in the recorded history of civilization. Amazing as it must seem at first glance, the ancient townsman, who lived in what we should regard as a little village, considered his neighbor, in a still smaller hamlet, a provincial, and treated him with condescension or contempt. The vineyards, granaries, and threshing floors which lay within a few miles of Jerusalem were spiritually as far from its market place, as the modern farm is from our own industrial centers. To the visitor from Ono or Anathoth, the noise of Jerusalem was as deafening, its metropolitan excitement as confusing, and its sophistication — to us so simple and transparent — as overwhelming, as those of the modern metropolis, with its millions of inhabitants and its endless traffic, are to the contemporary provincial. The reason for this is obvious: man's intellectual and emotional responses to differences of social environment are conditioned by relative, rather than by absolute, space. It is a question of time and ease of access, rather than of simple distance.
The permanence of the rural-urban conflict suggests the possibility that the formula for dealing with it may be
equally permanent. It is futile to deny that despite its many advantages, urbanization involves grave perils for the human race. A predominantly urban culture tends to become prosaic, self-centered, materialistic, and cynical. And even graver than the influence of the city on its inhabitants, is that which it frequently exerts on the neighboring countryside. The peasant who comes into fleeting contact with urban life tends to absorb its weakness, without gaining its strength. He imitates its vices, but cannot attain to its virtues. His faith is shaken, his family loyalties are loosened, his forthrightness is perverted. But only rarely does he substitute for these losses the intellectual or cultural vigor which makes city life a true civilization. Hence, long after the city trader has outgrown the habits of childish suspicion, shrewd bargaining, and foxy disingenuousness, these tendencies can still be found in the semi-urbahized peasantry. Given appropriate conditions, the city may produce the Pharisee and the Puritan; the decadent countryside can only rise to the pharisaical and the puritanical.
It is this wider spiritual decay which is reflected in three symptoms which Eduard Meyer, almost half a century ago, recognized as presaging the collapse of ancient Rome: a decreasing birthrate; a large group of economically uprooted, who had to be supported by the State; and a weakened sense of communal responsibility, particularly on the part of the intellectuals.*
How far the spiritual disintegration characteristic of later Rome has affected our own life is a subject of debate; but there can be little doubt of the reappearance throughout the civilized world of all three symptoms which Eduard
*Eduard Meyer, Kleine Schriften, pp. 147 ff.
Meyer enumerates. Nor can there be any question of the widespread fear that political antagonisms are moving toward the destruction of our inherited civilization. Perhaps at such a time the ancient amalgam of urbanity and rusticity, the intellectual rus in urbe, which formulated itself successively in the profoundly spiritual movements of Prophecy and Pharisaism may be studied not only out of curiosity or historical interest, but also for guidance.
The thesis presented in this work was first proposed, in a simpler form, in an article published through the courtesy of Professors G. F. Moore and James Ropes in Harvard Theological Review, XXII (1929), pp. 185-261. Feeling that the subject required further analysis, I continued my researches, and in 1933 prepared the first draft of the present book. This was read by a number of scholars and friends, including President Cyrus Adler, Professor Julius A. Bewer, Professor Philip Leon, President Julian Morgenstern, Mr. Maurice Samuel, and Professor Charles C. Torrey. The fundamental criticisms which they offered induced me to undertake a complete revision of the work, which I present herewith.
The extent to which I relied on the basic researches made by others is indicated in the bibliography as well as in the notes, where mention is made of several oral communications which I have used for the present study. In addition to this assistance, I have received help from my wife, and a large number of friends who, I know, would prefer to remain anonymous. I must, however, express my gratitude to Professor A. D. Nock, the present editor of the Harvard Theological Review, for his permission to reproduce verbatim
those parts of the article just mentioned, which are relevant to the present work; and to the librarians of the Jewish Theological Seminary of America, the Union Theological Seminary, the Dropsie College, the Hebrew Union College, the Jewish Institute of Religion, Columbia University, and the New York Public Library, for their unfailing courtesy. Part of Chapter XV was printed in The Menorah Journal, XXIV (January, 1936).
The transliteration used in this work is that adopted by the Jewish Publication Society for all of its books.
|Come and Hear™ to increase interfaith understanding http://www.come-and-hear.com|
An educational forum for the examination of religious truth and religious tolerance.