By Adam Kirsch
An crucial exploration of a wealthy literary culture from the Bible to fashionable occasions, by means of a “rare literary authority” (New York occasions publication Review) and “one of our keenest critics” (Washington Post).
Jews have lengthy embraced their id as “the humans of the book.” yet outdoor of the Bible, a lot of the Jewish literary culture continues to be little recognized to nonspecialist readers. The humans and the Books indicates how significant questions and issues of our heritage and tradition are mirrored within the Jewish literary canon: the character of God, how one can comprehend the Bible, the connection of the Jews to their Promised Land, and the demanding situations of residing as a minority in Diaspora. Adam Kirsch explores eighteen vintage texts, together with the biblical books of Deuteronomy and Esther, the philosophy of Maimonides, the autobiography of the medieval businesswoman Glückel of Hameln, and the Zionist manifestoes of Theodor Herzl. From the Jews of Roman Egypt to the paranormal devotees of Hasidism in japanese Europe, The humans and the Books brings the treasures of Jewish literature to lifestyles and provides new how one can take into consideration their enduring energy and influence.
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Extra info for The People and the Books: 18 Classics of Jewish Literature
When Josiah read this heretofore-unknown scroll, according to the biblical account in 2 Kings, his reaction was dramatic: When the king heard the words of the scroll of the Teaching, he rent his clothes. And the king gave orders to the priest Hilkiah. . “Go, inquire of the Lord on my behalf, and on behalf of the people, and on behalf of all Judah, concerning the words of this scroll that has been found. ” There is something Kafka-like about this scene: Josiah suddenly realizes that throughout his life, and for generations, he and his people have been guilty of breaking laws that they never even knew existed.
THE DUAL NATURE OF Deuteronomy reflects this dialectic of exile and return. After all, Deuteronomy is both an ending and a beginning: the ending of the Torah and the story of Moses, and the beginning of the history that will occupy the next part of the Bible—that of the occupation of the Promised Land by the Israelites. ” The origin of this name seems to have been a kind of misunderstanding: in chapter 17, Moses instructs the future kings of Israel to have a “copy of this Teaching”—“mishneh Torah”—made for their personal use.
Indeed, to read the books of Joshua, Judges, Samuel, and Kings—the historical books that chronicle the Israelite presence in the Promised Land, from the end of the Exodus to the Babylonian Exile—is to realize that the notion of Judaism as a monotheistic religion was alien, or at least contested, during this period of Israel’s history. At this period, in fact, to speak of Judaism at all is an anachronism. The picture the Bible gives is of an Israelite people that freely mingled the worship of pagan gods with the worship of the supreme God, Yahweh.
The People and the Books: 18 Classics of Jewish Literature by Adam Kirsch