Judaism and Its History

IN TWO PARTS

By Dr. Abraham Geiger

Rabbi of the Israelite Congregation at Frankfort on the Main

Translated from the German By CuHarites NEwBuRGH

The Bloch Publishing Co. New York

Entered according to Act of Congress in the year 1911 By CHARLES NEWBURGH in the office of the Librarian of Congress, at Washington, D. CO.

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Preface to the First Edition.

The following pages owe their origin to a Course of Lectures before a limited audience of educated persons. As they met with friends among those, so they seek them now among an educated public at large.

Ought subjects of such serious, profound importance as those considered in these pages to venture into the vast market of life, if their treatment claims to present new results gained from new points of view? It can not be contested that the results which science has apparently established with the aid of all the means at her command, should be made the property of all educated people. But as long as such proof has not been furnished in full, would it not be preposterous to drag them before the public at large? I have seriously considered these doubts. For the views expressed herein differ in important points from those generally prevailing, and I have thus far not had the opportunity to substantiate all of them so fully as to be able to refer to works previously published. I can only refer to my book, ‘The Original Text and Versions of the Bible,” to my essay, “‘Sadducees and Pharisees,”’ and a few other shorter articles published in my “‘ Jewish Review for Science and Life” and in other periodicals. Notwithstanding those doubts, I could not resist the tempta- tion presented by a finished manuscript. Considering that life is short and time is fleeting, I think myself to have the permission of saying with the wise Hillel, ‘‘ Praise to God, day by day.” It is not always advisable to defer and repress that which we deem useful until, perchance, it might become more useful. It shall remain the literary task of my life to elaborate, in closer connection and more exhaustively, the historical views presented in these pages. In the mean time I trust that they may in their present form disclose the back- ground, afford an insight into the serious studies upon which they are based, and make them sufficiently clear for those acquainted with the subject-matter and the original sources.

On the other hand, the very importance of the questions

I JUDAISM AND Its History

treated upon, as they require on the one side a thorough and cautious consideration, may on the other side even involve the demand not to withhold too long our own views gained by honest research. The questions are, after all, on every lip, and the man can least be exempted from answering them of whose official and literary position such answers may pre- eminently be expected and demanded. Historical facts must be explained for everyone, because they are the sources whence convictions, rules for belief and practice are derived. How then under such circumstances, and especially in our time, characterized by mental and spiritual commotion, could the impulse to a publication of one’s own attempted solution be repressed? May, then, my views also mingle with the crowd of diverging opinions and testify for themselves.

To provide them with a passport in the form of extensive proofs and citations would be entirely out of place in a preface. Yet one thought I desire to recommend to the con- sideration of my readers. Just because the events treated upon herein have exercised a lasting influence, views have been formed of them which are regarded as completely settled, so that any deviation from them appears as highly extraordinary. Most men find it difficult to transpose them- selves, regardless of the later conceptions, into the very time of the events and tendencies then prevailing, and to consider with open eyes that which then actually existed, and not that which it became in the views of a later period. Men are so accustomed to identify the present mode of thinking, which has been developed in the course of two thousand years, with that then existing; words and terms which at the time when first used, had quite a different meaning, are now taken in a sense which was gradually attributed to them and is now prevailing. Hence, when we read the ancient writings containing those expressions, according to the modern use of language, we must necessarily arrive at gross miscon- ceptions; nevertheless, resistance is made, whenever the original meaning is demonstrated and the whole mode of thinking at that time elucidated accordingly. The terms Pharisees, this world, the world to come, the kingdom of God,

PREFACE TO THE First EDITION 5

and the like, belong, according to my settled conviction, to that class of words whose meanings have undergone an important change. I appeal therefore, to impartial exami- nation, in order that it may gain the strength to wean itself from traditional prejudices and acquire the insight to view properly into historical events long past. If it be conceded that two thousand years have not vanished away without leaving their traces in the entire process of thought of man- kind, it is absurd to allege that ideas and words which through- i out such a period thave exercised a decisive influence upon thought and practice, had no other meaning in former times and were not changed as to their significance with the change of external conditions and sentiments. Yet, if we desire to comprehend Antiquity, we must understand its mode of thought and speech, and not measure it by our own standard. How far my views will meet with approval, time naturally will show; I am prepared for opposition from some quarters. Whenever it shall be presented to me with quiet and soberness, I shall examine it with all candor and willingly confess all errors proven; but I shall also persist in the truth of my conviction and, if need be, defend it whenever I regard it as well founded. Irritation can not affect me. Through labors of many years in the domain of the life and science of Judaism I have acquired the experience that opposing scorn to many an unaccustomed expression could not prevent its extensive general recognition at a later time. If I have also entered the domain of Christianity as far as the subject of these lectures required it, and have unhesitatingly presented con- victions which may be now and then in sharp conflict with those ordinarily current, every fair-minded thinker will soon recognize that I have not done so wantonly nor from insidious hostility, but because I was forced into it by the necessity for authentification of my own conviction, while laboring in the cultivation of my own soil. It is high time that Jews } should openly declare how they understand events from the’) very consideration of which comes the difference of the two/ religions. If free expression of opinion is both a right an

must not be denied, and a duty that must not be neglected,

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6 JUDAISM AND Its History

an opponent should even be glad when contradiction presents) an open front, so that he may know whither to direct his) mental weapons during the contest, and is not compelled to, grope in uncertain darkness in warding off hidden attack from*, the ambush of silence. With zealots who regard every contradiction as blasphemy, every view different from their own as damnable, and who would therefore close its mouth; who love to strengthen the weakness of their arguments by the violence of their proceeding—with such zealots, considera- tions like those mentioned will have no weight; with calmness, I look forward to condemnation by them. And for their use, I say: I alone and exclusively bear the responsibility of all I have said in these lectures. How many or how few of my co-religionists share my views, [do not know. Hence, I make exclusive claim to the entire honor of being attacked. My words must not afford a pretext for an accusation against Jews and Judaism. Butshould that, nevertheless, be done under the hypocritical pretence of piety, a new, sad example would be shown of the value placed in certain circles—I will not say upon the vaunted word of love, but in general—upon justice and fairness.

If I have here added a few words to what I have declared in the lectures, I owe yet an explanation for all omissions. Originally it had not been my intention to give such scanty review, as is contained in the twelfth lecture, to the long period from the destruction of the Second Temple to the present time. The narrow limit of time only, and the num- bers of the lectures ultimately made that brevity a necessity. But I trust that I shall meet no serious blame on that account. The earlier period remains the foundation and could not yield to a shorter consideration than has been given to it. For the present, the survey of that later period may be regarded as a preliminary account of the transition to the present time. To be able to present this period also according to its funda- mental ideas and decisive events in a similar manner, in a new course of lectures, is a hope to the realization of which I look forward with delight.

May these leaves, then, borne by favorable breezes, reach the hands of appreciative readers.

GEIGER. Frankfort on the Main, March 11, 1864.

Preface to the Second Edition.

Faster than I had expected, the demand for a second edition has appeared. The fact is to mea glad guaranty that the book has not lacked notice in wider circles of educated persons, and probably found attention and approval, too. If the organs of criticism have so far kept silent about it, I am far from interpreting their silence as intentional in a demon- strative sense, neither does that give me reason to assume that the book made no impression. Besides a few short notices, three notable papers have published lengthy discus- sions last year; viz., Die Grenzboten (No. 41), Die Augs- burger Allgemeine Zeitung (Supplement No. 3821), and Steinschneider’s Hebrew Bibliography (No. 42). Their verdict was not an agreement in all parts with the views of the author, yet at any rate such a one as is declared upon something worth noticing. The reviewers differed widely among themselves, so that their verdicts often mutually cancel each other in surprising manner. It appeared to one of them that my remarks on Renan and Strauss touched them but very little, while the other one found that I had thrown strong light upon their central points. If this one thought proper to designate my review of some sayings of Jesus as subtle, the third was of the opinion that just that view would meet with most approval. The last one again emphasized the doubt expressed by myself, whether views ought to be offered in popular presentation to the public at large before being scientifically authenticated by all parties; and this with a certain amount of reproachful aside. In contradiction to that, the first one declares that whoever knows my other scientific labors, would find nothing new in the book. The reviewer of the Allgemeine Zeitung seems to enjoy, relative to that point, a naive ignorance which behaves in the manner of self-admiration or arrogance, belonging to that mental plane.

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8 JuDAIsM AND Its History

Considering those contradictions in which the preliminary representatives of public opinion are moving, and considering the mere indicatory manner by which, notwithstanding greater detail, they rather touch the results, without entering deeper into examination of those and the investigations leading to them, I have no cause for making essential changes in the book. From the surprise expressed by the Christian reviewers at my giving to Judaism both in Antiquity and in relation to Christianity, continuous justification of existence as a religious force and a future and a mission for the future —from that surprise they will gradually recover. To be shaken out of a prejudice in which one has been comfortably rocked, is inconvenient. But that can not induce me to cease from designating the prejudice, spread ever so far, as prejudice, and I feel neither desire nor need of working over a book which has proceeded out of the author’s inmost mental and spiritual life, as long as my presentation has not been proven erroneous. I have therefore limited myself in this edition to smoothing occasional crudities in expression. I can now point more definitely to a supplement, because a course of lectures which I am delivering this winter is continuing the consideration of the history into the Middle Ages and will be published later.

Meanwhile, may the book begin its journey for the second time, and gain new friends in addition to the old ones.

GEIGER. Frankfort on the Main, January 15, 1865.

Contents.

PAGE Preface tothe First Maibioni i hes Tg 3 Preface to the Secondi ditions: 22) Umer Mee 7 First Lecture: On the Nature of Religion............. 13

Second Lecture: Religion in Antiquity and Religion in Hoyo Few teva WAR ARCA ZAR RUG EM SE a a Oe 24 Third eekure: | REVElation oie sean ole nals. 39

Fourth Lecture: Nationality, Slavery, Woman’s Position 49

Fifth Lecture: Sacrificial Service and Priesthood,

Dividedi Nationality sy : ios 2U Ane acetate gas 61 Sixth Lecture: Exile and Return, Tradition........... 77 Seventh Lecture: Hellenism, Sadducees and Pharisees.. 90 Eighth Lecture: Sadducees and Pharisees, The World to

Comey Fillets Gergen Gi Se ee a ue rape Mais 2 106 Ninth Lecture: Parties and Sects, Origin of Christianity 122~__ Tenth Lecture: Evolution of Christianity............ Be

Eleventh Lecture: Christianity as an Ecclesiastical World Power. The Destruction of Jewish Nationality ....152

Twelfth Lecture: In the Dispersion................. 163 Appendix: A Glance at the Latest Works on the Life of

First Parr

Closing with the Destruction of the Second Temple In Twelve Lectures, with an Addition

“RENAN AND STRAUSS”

Judaism and Its History.

a On the Nature of Religion.

If I ask your attention for a series of Lectures on Judaism, its essence, formation, development, its relation to similar appearances in history, on the mission which it undertook to fulfill and the manner in which it has fulfilled it, on the mission which still remains to it, both for the present and a long future—the subject, presenting a grand world-historic phe- nomenon, may well demand your sympathy. A grand, world-historic phenomenon—not conveying the idea that Judaism, like many other historic phenomena, entered upon the world’s stage for a certain time, and during that time exerted great influence, but as something finite, disappeared again and has become merely a subject for historical con- sideration. No, we may call it a world-historic phenomenon as an institution reaching back into that period whence historical knowledge began for the world, having not only existed for thousands of years and still existing, but because passed, as it were, as an immortal traveler through history, continuously accompanying history and co-operating with history from its very beginning to thisday. A world-historic phenomenon, because it had given birth to kindred phenomena, Christianity and Islam, and projected them into history as grand energies which exerted their transforming, vivifying effect upon great multitudes, ruled the whole tendency of their mind and affected the entire development of the con- ditions and of Judaism too, through them. And notwith-

14 JupAtIsM AND Its History

standing Judaism presents such a world-historic phenomenon —may claim such great importance—notwithstanding, or perhaps on that very account, the opinions expressed con- cerning it are most conflicting; the importance of Judaism is denied out and out, or it is asserted that it has lost all importance a long time ago, or at least for our time.

Judaism, such is the first assertion, is a Religion, is one of the various forms in which religion presents itself in the life of man, in history; but religion itself is something beyond which we have progressed. Obscure, blind belief, hypotheses that can not be proven and should not be proven, which the human mind can not master, but which take possession of it and subjugate it—such conceptions have been relegated to the rear, long ago. Such ideas may have been very appro- priate for a time when mankind was yet in its earliest infancy, groping its way in attempts to understand its environment, while the premises were lacking by which it might have arrived at knowledge. But we are the knowing ones, we have already reached such an eminence as affords us the means to pronounce the most decided judgment so that we are no longer fit subjects for blind belief and submission. But granted even that religion may still claim in our time some authority, that it embraces higher truths which man evolves from his own mind, higher truths concerning God, the human soul, freedom of will, immortality, virtue, etc., and that those truths, arranged in compact order may be designated as a System of Religion; what validity can be adjudged to the claim pre-eminently asserted by Judaism and after its manner also by other religions, the claim to Revelation, through the medium of which those truths have reached the mind without being produced by it; the claim that those truths made their appearance within mankind in an extra- ordinary manner and have thus been handed down without being reproduced anew by each and every generation. We have conquered for ourselves the autonomy of the mind; all claims raised against it, such as Judaism raises, are unjustified, and still more so when the turbid admixture of tradition is added to be also received as a truth. Or does Judaism

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ON THE NATURE OF RELIGION 15

perchance repudiate revelation and tradition? Does it want to be satisfied with the glory of having first proclaimed those sublime truths that have become common property of mankind—that it was the first to clearly enunciate ideas which are destined for all mankind and have completely taken possession of it? Be it so! Let it rejoice in that glory! But so runs the further assertion, even this glory can not be granted toit undiminished. The truths, as enunciated by Judaism, are imperfect; other, later religions have given them proper profundity and made them perfectly clear, on one side filling all gaps in magnificent manner, and on the other side, removing all superfluous matter and correcting all errors. Accordingly, Judaism is antiquated, is a ruin which has been preserved for a small circle, but which is no longer a determinative energy, its spiritual life became stunted and has fallen to the rear, while other religions have gone forward and extended their power over the world. Judaism remained within a small circle for which, it is still further asserted, it may perhaps still have had some importance in a period likewise passed away during the Middle Ages; for those professing it, it was a medium of spiritual and moral life. At a time when barriers of separation were the rule and fashion, when every small group existed as a close corporation and the members of each one of those had their growth and development only within such narrow confines, Judaism also had its authoritative and beneficent influence. But now we, especially those who think and have attained to a higher plane of culture, have progressed far beyond that point. Mankind has become a unit; mental and spiritual life, thought. and feeling, though manifesting themselves in many forms, are nevertheless one and the same in essence, all mental, treasures have become a common inheritance of humanity; the individual is satisfied with being a man. Those occupy- ing a higher point of view among all parties and associations constitute a unit; Judaism has lost its importance for the present age for those who stand on the summit of our time. Those are powerful and weighty objections. Let us approach them. The thinking man must unswervingly face

16 JupDAIsM AND Its History

all doubts, must not cowardly hide himself before them, and even when such doubts are presented in the form of assertions, he must not at once despair and surrender to them.

We are the knowing ones. This assertion is put forward with proud consciousness by our age in opposition to a sage of whom it is said that he had brought wisdom from heaven to earth by announcing that the highest degree of knowledge consisted in knowing that we know nothing. During the two thousand years since that saying was given to the world, we have made immense progress, and results of which there was then not the slightest presentiment are now either common property of all, or at least of those who more seriously devote themselves to research. Natural science has made giant strides. It now knows how to dissolve substances which were formerly considered indissoluble. It under- stands how to follow up the forces which bind and dissolve; it knows how to come at the volatile and evasive elements, how to fathom their laws deeper and deeper and reduce them to higher laws. How far it may progress, who can foresee? What depths it may yet penetrate, who can foretell? It has watched the secret ways in which growth and decay proceed, and has arranged them in a system of rules and laws. And yet, however farther and farther it may penetrate, for we can put no limits to its progress, will it not meet individual matters which can not be dissolved? Will it not ultimately come up with original substance that will ever remain original substance? With an original energy that will ever remain intangible and inexplicable? Will it not everlastingly be compelled to imagine laws and rules which must be supposed as existing, without being able further to prove them? Grant even one law is established, one order is arranged. The human mind will not quiet down at the point of blind force, will not be satisfied with standing still upon arrival at a certain point. With a presentient glance it will always perceive the ordering mind that must have put it up in such manner. Man, conscious of his own reason, can never resist that impulse.

Nature presents herself to us in a great variety of beings

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ON THE NATURE OF RELIGION 17

according to classes and species; they are different and distinct; though they touch each other, they do not pass Over, one into the other. Modern investigation has made the bold advance to search out how from the lower orders the higher ones might have evolved, how from the most imperfect organisms, the higher ones gradually shaped them- selves. Whether it will succeed in clearing up also that mystery, whether such production of one from the other shall prove to be the truth—that is the business of the naturalists to decide, now or in the future. But this much we see: species do exist, they do not change one into the other, they are apart and they remain apart. The same force which created them at the beginning, one out of the other, as alleged, should necessarily continue the same process, should even at this time produce an animal out of the plant and perfect it to the higher organism. But the present world does not present to us such a phenomenon, each kind remains within its fixed limits, it continually begets only individuals of its own kind, and not one is transformed into another. Hence it is not a necessarily propelling force, but an ordering one which puts up each kind according to its peculiarity and preserves it, one that is not blindly rushing ahead without stopping, but which preserves nature as a whole, composed of different parts, so that it is unchangeable both as a whole and in its variety. Nature is ordered according to a definite will, according to an independently ruling reason, and is preserved in that arrangement; the whole universe is one structure, united notwithstanding its great variety, forming a harmonious whole, notwithstanding its various parts. That is wisdom, arrangement according to purpose and plan, so that even destroying forces present themselves as trans- forming ones, in order to cause the rising of new and nobler’ creations. That can be only the work of conscious reason— no, never that of a force propelling without purpose. It is a bold word which a great astronomer once uttered when he presented his work upon the mechanism of the heavens to his sovereign. The monarch expressing surprise at not finding God mentioned in the book, the man of science said,

18 Jupaism AND Its History

“T do not need that hypothesis.” Of course, it was not necessary for him in his explanation of the laws and their operation, at the same time to state how those laws originated and who fixed them everlasting and unchangeable; but what a man in a certain specialty may put aside, that a thinking man can not avoid, he is compelled to seek a higher cause that works according to rational principles.

Man has to explain not only nature surrounding him— he himself must be explained together with it; he is part and parcel of nature, and to know himself is a task which he can not avoid. But just to himself man becomes the greatest enigma, the more he reflects upon himself. It has been attempted to connect man very closely with similar creatures; species of apes have been mentioned as being but very little apart from man. Some kinds of apes, so it was said, have the appearance of being sunk in melancholy, as if pervaded by a longing desire to get out of that close restraint of mind. A contemplative sentiment, such as man attributes to the animal, but simply attributes, if he regards and conceives animal stupor as melancholy. The distance between the most highly organized animals and man remains a gap that can not be filled. To draw the most remote parallel between man who, despite his inconsiderate bodily strength, notwith- standing he is in many ways with regard to corporeal qualities inferior to other animals which are stronger and swifter, has nevertheless become lord of the earth, of all creation, who more and more gains dominion over everything in inanimate and animate nature, who accommodates himself to every place and knows how to control all conditions; to draw even the most distant comparison between man and any animal which leads an unprogressive life, which continuously remains on the same plane and is limited to a certain part of the world; which, without exercising any influence upon the rest of creation, perishes and leaves no trace behind—such a comparison, it must be admitted, looks like childish behavior, throwing away and destroying its own valuables.

No, man is of an entirely different genus. Man who is bound to time and space like all other corporeal and earthly

ON THE NATURE OF RELIGION 19

creatures; individual man who is tied to a certain locality, who lives and moves within a small particle of time, never- theless on the other hand overcomes time and space within him, he can transpose himself into the most distant regions, can place the past before him, presuppose the future, has a conception of what is beyond the present. Such faculty can not be the attribute of the body. The body is circumscribed by space and time. Man has the power of recollection, he bears within him that which is past, he can recall it, bring | back the most various things from his memory, knowledge has become his property; secure in the possession of knowl- | edge of one thing, he progresses step by step. Yet, where, in what part of his body is it? Let us pronounce the word | which would not exist at all if the thing did not exist: it is | the spirit. Man has a spirit, a faculty which is connected with his body in so far as it moves and animates him, but which is still far more because it leads him to rational con- templation, opens for him an insight into objects which his physical vision is unable to perceive or to grasp. That isa great word pronounced by the thinker who inaugurated the modern system of thought: “I think; therefore I am.” The consciousness of the fact that I think, affords me the guaranty that I am; I might doubt all that surrounds me, might lose faith in my own existence, my physical vision is very deceptive, it assures certainty only .through my con- sciousness. In fact, man sees all objects presented to him from without in a reverse position as they are mirrored on his retina, and his belief that he sees them as they really are, is the result of our thought, which effects the transposition with imperceptible velocity. Properly speaking, man sees no distance, the impression made of an object through the medium of ray is fixed within his sense of seeing. One object appears as near to him as another, no matter how much the one may be removed or the other brought nearer to him. It | is for that reason that, at first, nothing appears distant to a blind person on gaining sight; every object presents itself to his vision as though it were close to him. Thought, habit only, teaches man to size the objects lying between, and from

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20 JUDAISM AND Its History

that he concludes that some objects are not so near as they are reflected upon his organ of sight, that they are at different distances. Sounds approach one after another; their con- nection is expressed only through our thought; through our mental grasp they become a unit; their harmony is within us; it is, as it were, awakened within us by the sounds suc- ceeding each other. And the same can be proven with regard to all other senses. Thought gives shape to the perception of our senses, thought which, at the same time, furnishes man with expression for all feelings, sentiments and ideas. For language, the most faithful reflector of the spirit, constitutes the connecting link between man’s inmost essence and the outer world; language most decisively marks him apart from all other creatures, language which, born as it were, of inward clearness, in its turn renders thought intelligible and gives it full and complete clearness. And nevertheless, that being upon whom the mark of dominion is so distinctly stamped, who can view the universe and all time through his spirit and its mind, that being feels himself, at the same time, limited, meets everywhere bars set up to his life and thought. An individual may advance ever so far and still remains an atom of humanity, so mankind itself is but a part of creation, and creation in its turn streams forth from the source of a greater Spirit. The limits adhere to man; being but a part, he can not arrive at a complete knowl- edge of the Original Cause of the whole; he must ever bear within himself the consciousness that he is but a fractional part, a fragment, incomplete.

And yet man feels that he occupies a high position in other respects according to resolutions, according to principles which he forms for himself; he proceeds according to his own will, he chooses, he is the author of his own deeds; no com- pulsion from without drives him on, he reflects, judges, and decides accordingly—what a boundless distinction! Oh, if he only could rejoice thereat in perfect ease! Even there, a mighty conflict arises within him. Whatever I may choose, however I may decide, I am induced thereto by certain reasons. These depend upon knowledge, and this I have

ON THE NATURE OF RELIGION 21

derived from certain causes; aye, I am a child of my time, I suffer myself to be impelled and guided by what my time presents as truth; I am a product of my environment, I am not my own creator, I am not the author of my own actions. The desire everywhere to recognize the law of cause and effect | crowds against my freedom, shows a necessary continuance of cause and effect, until I arrive at causes that are without me. } And yet, man in his deepest self-consciousness feels that he is free, that his will is vested with the power to oppose and dominate all external influences. He is seized with repentance when he recognizes an action of his to be wrong; but he must

}

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reproach himself only with actions that have been prompted by himself, and not with those to which he was impelled by uncontrollable necessity. Thus, then, man is free and yet again in bonds! Here also, he perceives his limits, feels that he has not arrived at that degree of perfection for which he longs and of which he has presentiments. He is endowed with a double nature: the consciousness of his greatness and eminence, and over against that, the humiliating feeling of his dependence; on the one hand, the impulse to raise himself to that source whence has proceeded his own mental and spiritual faculty which is not self-creative even because it is dependent; and on the other hand, his inability to completely occupy that highest plane. Now, is not this true religion: the consciousness of man’s eminence and lowness; the aspira- tion to perfection, coupled with the conviction that we can not reach the highest plane; the presentiment of the Highest which must exist as a freely acting will, of the Wisdom whence also our little fragment of wisdom proceeds, of an infinitely ruling Freedom whence also our limited freedom has sprung forth—is not that longing for the higher, that soaring up with all the strength of our soul, the very essence of religion? Religion is not a system of truths, it is the jubilation of the soul conscious of its eminence and, at the same time, its humble confession of its finiteness and limitations. Religion is the aspiration of the spirit after the ideal; the pursuit after the loftiest ideas; the desire to reach maturity in spiritual life and to dive deeper and deeper into it; to conquer the

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aby ay) JUDAISM AND Its History

corporeal and earthly; and on the other hand, the unavoidable sentiment that we are still linked with the finite and limited. Religion is the aspiration after the Most High whom we conceive as the sole, full truth; the soaring up to the All- encircling Unity which man, through the whole nature of his spirit, presupposes as a whole, as the foundation of all that exists and shall be, as the source of all earthly and spiritual life, of which he bears within him the vivid conviction, though he be unable to completely know it. All that may be desig- nated as an ancient conception; nothing but presentiment, longing, assumption, which can not be satisfactorily proven. But such is the very nature, the very essence of man, and it must be so, because he is a disconnected being, a fragment torn from the whole spiritual life to which he feels himself attracted without being able to perceive it in its entirety and perfection. The great saying of Lessing: ‘If God, holding in one hand complete truth, and searching after truth in the other, were to say to me, ‘Man, choose!’ I should ask God and say, ‘The whole truth is not for me, searching after truth is fit for me,’” is a saying of the most profound and truest religiousness. Yea! longing after the Highest, attachment to the Whole, striving toward the Infinite despite our finiteness and limitations—that is religion. Therein we have also the guaranty for the Highest and Infinite, because we long to rise up to it; for the Eternal Wisdom, for the Free Agency that encompasses and produces everything out of itself, because we aspire thereto, because we bear the longing after it within ourselves. It can not bea fiction, the offspring of our imagi- nation; it is the noblest reality within us. Religion is not an invention of idle priests; it existed and exists in mankind, and every good and noble aspiration—when man, putting aside his seclusive selfishness, lovingly and fervently attaches him- self to his country and gives to it his own life and welfare and gladly labors for all and is filled with the desire to strive toward the Highest—is the work of religion. Though religion may present itself according to its rise in various outward forms, religion, as such, is a necessity, the noblest feature within man. It will cease only with man, not among men.

ON THE NATURE OF RELIGION 23

As long as the spirit’s yearning for the Spirit of All remains, as long as that must remain, so long religious life will exist. Religion is life. All actions of man, as far as they are prompted by and are striving toward higher views, are the work of religion, and the results of religion. Religion will become purer, more enlightened, its essence and function will be better understood, and it will always remain in existence, because man’s longing and imperfection will always remain. The more he advances, the more he will feel this distance from the Infinite and Eternal Wisdom; but he will also the more devotedly look up to it, draw from it, bow to it with fervency and humility. If Judaism did and still does work such an effect as a religion, it is one of the noblest animating forces among mankind.

II.

Religion in Antiquity, and Religion in Judaism.

The preceding considerations do not lay claim to estab- lishing new foundations confirming truths thereby. That would be in conflict with the essence of religion: it would divest it of its very peculiarity of being the inheritance of humanity. Religion is an eternal, self-containing force, not a fragile thing which, soon breaking down, is put up again in an altered manner. Nor did our essay mean to adduce new, decisive evidences for religion, to prove its existence. Religion is not philosophy, the slowly progressing thinking power of man; it is an inborn longing of a whole man who thinks, feels, and wants to act morally and right. Our intention was merely to invite you to again examine whether science, especially natural philosophy and the knowledge of man, had now so far progressed as to have so clearly solved the enigma of existence, of the nature of man, and to have so thoroughly explained all antagonism that man’s desire for looking beyond, for breaking through finiteness, for seeking some explanation which may satisfy the wants of his inmost soul, even if it may not afford the most perfect evidence—that such a desire ought to be repudiated as something foolish and uncalled for. Religion is not philosophy; it is rather the manifestation of the force of attraction spread throughout all nature. Wherever we turn, we discover in the separate parts of the life of nature a propulsion of one toward the other, a sensation of one part being attracted by another, that every being is invested with the desire of one for another. The same force of attraction moves man, but with this difference, that he is conscious of it; he feels the desire to associate, to step out of his finiteness and to connect himself with the

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Infinite, to nestle himself lovingly, with all the fervency of his soul, near the Source of Wisdom and Love. Philosophy, like every other science, is the toilsome conquest of indi- viduals, of those endowed with faculties of a higher order. Religion is a common property of humanity, it is a peculiar susceptibility of man, which irresistibly develops itself within him, more or less clearly illuminating him with its truths. Hence, religion has existed from eternity and will exist unto eternity.

While religion is thus the most individual element which appears to man as his deepest, innermost quality and dis- tinguishes him as an individual in his belief and practice, constituting the inmost motive power of his whole being, it forms, on the other hand, the bond of all mankind, just because it is something common to all, the connecting link between the several parts, as well as between them and the whole. Everything in each man is vested with the desire of union with all men; mankind has the desire that all individuals, while completely preserving their independence, may put aside their distinct exclusiveness and co-operate together as a united whole. Such mingling of the separate individual with the common interest is primarily manifested in the tribe and the nation. A nation appears as a unit, distinct from other nations, and yet as a conglomeration of a large number of widely differing human beings. Thus also, religion primarily presents itself as the religion of a tribe, but with the instinct to conquer all mankind, to gather all under its banner. If that instinct is powerful enough, if religion, though presenting itself as a tribal or national religion, yet rises superior to its nationality, if it continues its existence after the fetters which national life had put upon it have been broken, if it does not die when the people among whom it lived have lost their existence as a nation, then indeed, it has successfully passed the trial of its reliability and its truth. Judaism has proved itself a force outliving its peculiar nationality and therefore may lay claim to special consideration. But the fact of enduring existence alone should not sway our judg- ment; an examination into its intrinsic worth alone can afford

26 JUDAISM AND Its History

us a true measure for our estimate. A comparison between Judaism and other religions at a time when they had not yet come into contact with it and had not yet been affected by its influence, will furnish us the surest conviction of its superiority over the other religions of Antiquity.

Without doubt, the most talented nation of Antiquity which was distinguished by noble culture and which exerted the most profound influence upon the development of the whole human race, whose art and science have had the most vivifying and quickening effect upon all times, so that when they were again dug up from under the rubbish that had covered them so long, they appeared as a refreshing well from which humanity drank with greedy drafts—that nation was the Greek nation. As Pallas Athene comes forth armed and equipped from the head of Zeus, thus also the Greek nation appears on the stage of history completely furnished with the noblest weapons of the mind, decked out with the loveliest bloom of life. Even in its first authors and poets, it displays its whole inner being, presenting, though not yet grown out of its infancy nor fully emerged from semisavagery, a har- monious, complete nature. Its most ancient poet, Homer, has remained an unequaled pattern for all time. He exhibits an imagination which boldly soars up and yet is not unbridled, a taste for the beautiful and harmonious expressed in the noblest euphony. How much joy we derive from beholding the beautiful, noble forms of his creation! Men of giant strength and yet sobered and moderated by an innate feeling for the decorous; figures that, though high and sublime, move and affect us by their childlike traits. Nausicaa in her maiden modesty, Penelope’s touching faithfulness, the stalwart, bold Hector affectionately bidding farewell to his wife and playing with his child—those are everlasting, noble, human figures to which we return again and again with heartfelt elation. And what strange religious belief did that richly endowed nation bring forth! How imperfect and childish is its belief concerning the Divine, its mythology! Its gods—for of an only God there is no mention—are a set of powerful turbulent aristocrats presided over by a more

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