By Paul Johnson
A countrywide bestseller, this exceptional 4000 12 months survey covers not just Jewish background yet he effect of Jewish genius and mind's eye at the global. by means of the writer of recent instances: the realm From the Twenties to the Eighties.
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In moving from paganism, the Israelites were clearly right to insist on a greater intellectualization of the deity, a move towards the abstract. It was part of their religious revolution. But intellectualization is difficult, and the Israelites themselves did not despise visual aids, albeit verbal images. The Bible abounds with anthropomorphism of the deity. There is a further contradiction. How can man be made in God’s image, if the image of God is unimaginable, and therefore forbidden? Yet the idea of man as conceived in the divine image is as central to the religion as the ban on idols.
The stories of the plagues of Egypt, and the other wonders and miracles which preceded the Israelite break-out, have so dominated our reading of Exodus that we sometimes lose sight of the sheer physical fact of the successful revolt and escape of a slave-people, the only one recorded in antiquity. It became an overwhelming memory for the Israelites who participated in it. For those who heard, and later read, about it, the Exodus gradually replaced the creation itself as the central, determining event in Jewish history.
105 So this, too, became an element in the belief of other peoples that the Jews held aloof from the rest of humanity. The Israelites were already in the process of becoming very distinctive, and in certain critical respects they were spiritually in advance of their age. But they were still a primitive people by the standards of advanced societies in 1250 BC. Even in their spirituality they retained many backward elements, and continued to do so for centuries. Indeed, being both historically minded and legalistic, they were inclined to formalize and cling to old superstitions.
A History of the Jews by Paul Johnson
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