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April 26, 1963 - Image 11

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1963-04-26

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

In 1938, a sensation was cre-
ated in the Jewish scholarly
world with the appearance of
Dr. Louis..
Finkelstein's
P u b lication
"T h e Phari-
sees." A sec-
ond edition
was published
by the Jewish
Society t w o
years later,
and some cor-
rections were
made in that
edition.
Dr. Finkel-
stein did not
stop explor-
ing, doing re-
search, study-
ing his sub-
ject, with the Dr. Finkelstein
result that the JPS has just pro-
duced the third edition, with
a lengthy supplement that at-
tests to the learning of the
author and to his determined
will not to leave anything un-
explored that would enrich his
subject matter.
In addition to a lengthy
and scholarly introduction
that has been added to the
third edition, the special
supplement of 125 pages con-
tains data dealing with "The
Uniqueness of Pharisaism,"
"The Background of the Sad-
ducean Views," "The Am ha-
Arez," "The Origin of the
Sadducees and Boethusians
as Sects" and "The Sociologi-
cal Basis of the Controversies
with Pharisaism."
The introductory note itself,

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as a valuable addendum to the
new edition, contains explana-
tory material on modern
theories about the Pharisees,
rural atmosphere of Talmudic
documents, the nature of the
Hasidean - judiciary, Hasidean
civil and criminal law, unwrit-
ten Hasidean ritual law, de-
scriptions of the Pharisees by
Josephus and modern theories
about Pharisaism.
The views of Biblical critics
are taken into consideration
and Dr. Finkelstein goes into
great detail to show how. Abra-
ham Geiger and others have
been misled.
He maintains that "the
pharisees can be shown to
have followed judginents and
views natural to urban lay
scholars" and that "Saddu-
cism was the product of the
Temple hierarchy and the
provincial aristocracy, where-
as Pharisaism arose from con-
ditions governing the market
place in Jerusalem."
Dr. Finkelstein's supplemen-
tary material shows that "the
Pharisees with their eye on the
future world disregarded suc-
cess and comforts on earth, and
in these respects differed from
the Sadducees." After a lengthy
analysis of Josephus' views of
the Pharisees, Dr. Finkelstein
declares:
"The description of the Phar-
isees in Josephus agreed fully
with the implications of the
talmudic writings. From both
works the Pharisees emerge as
a group which, accepting the
Torah as the word of God and
considering existence meaning-
ful only so far as it provided
opportunity for service to Him,
adhered loyally to the rituals
enjoined in Scripture. The
Pharisees followed a series of
norms in which the word of
Scripture was elaborated. They
studied the word of the Torah
and indulged in continuous con-
templation of the right, in an
instant search for the ethical
life. They possessed a wide
reputation for piety, tolerance,
wisdom. This reputation clothed
the Pharisees with enormous
power used with remarkable
self-restraint. They were loathe
to impose punishment for
crime, and when compelled by
evidence to do so inclined
toward leniency. They treated
each other with great affection,
and were generally mild and
temperate to opponents. • They
despised present luxury, and
sought instead to deserve fu-
ture bliss . . . "
While the new two-volume
study deals with the Phari-
sees, the supplementary data
regarding the Sadducees and
other elements in the Israel
of that period adds to the
completeness of Dr. Finkel-
stein's study. He shows that
the - Pharisees inherited their
notions from the Prophetic
school and that the Saddu-
cees' ritualistic point of view
.efleeted "the aristocratic
and provincial attitudes of
Judea in the later centuries
of the First Commonwealth."
His interesting and enlight-
ening chapter on "The Am ha-
Arez" point out: "The epithet
`am ha-arez was not given the
peasantry by the Hasideans, but
was applied to the 'country peo-
ple' by the landowning aris-
tocracy whose main homes were
in Jerusalem. The description
thus corresponds to the expres-
sion 'natives,' for which it was
used in the Books of Ezra and
Nehemiah. The 'am ha-Arez
mentioned in the last chapter
of Kings as a significant and
recognized body in the Corn-

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monwealth, apparently repre-
sented the 'country' in contrast
to the 'city.' The term 'am-Arez
should not therefore be ren-
dered 'people of the soil,' but
`country people' or 'country
person.' "
Dr. Finkelstein asserts that
"the task of formulating the
codes has not been completed"
and "the task of bringing the
talmudic method to bear on de-
cisions, not subject to codifica-
tion but penetrating every as-
pect of life, is the chappenge
Pharisaism presents our gen-
eration."
He states that "since the
close of the talmudic period the
foremost effort to recover the
implicit genius of pharisaism
was that of Maimonides, whose
genius of pharisaism was that
of Maimonides, whose genius so
frequently cut through the per-
plexities of the transmitted dis-
cussion to the heart of the
moral issues.
Dr. Finkelstein himself indi-
cates that the task of studying
this important subject has not
ended. He recognizes the con-
tributions made to the subject
by Dr. Saul Lieberman and in-
dicates that the study must go
on.
The voluminous notes, appen-
dices, biblography and the im-
mense amount of research in-
corporated in these two vol-
umes make Dr. Finkelstein's
"The Pharisee s" supremely
noteworthy among the Jewish
studies of the present genera-
tion.
—P.S.

* * *

come to us only from the pen (4
this foremost master of the field:
'All students of the Bible, of Rab-
binics and of the history of re-
ligions will be grateful to the
author for the deeper under-
standing of Judaism-dn-the-mak-
ing which his work affords us.

plebian-patrician c on t r o v ersy
back to biblical times.
In some. instances Dr. Finkel-
stein revises his analysis on the
basis of further research. For
instance, in his original discus-
sion of the Resurrection, he at-
tributes Isaiah 26.19, the verse
in which this doctrine is first
clearly enunciated, to a late post-
exilic prophet. In his revision,
however, he accepts the view of
Ezekiel Kaufmann who convinc-
ingly establishes Isianic author-
ship for Isaiah 24-27, thus plac-
ing this clear reference to the
Resurrection of the Dead not in
the Persian period but in the
Eighth century B.C.E.
Included in the new material
is a systematic cataloguing of
twenty-three controversies be-
tween the Sadducees and the
Pharisees with a thoroughly doc-
umented analysis which could

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Dr. Finkelstein's
Revisions Indicated

By RABBI SAUL LEEMAN
Dr. Louis Finkelstein 25 years
ago demonstrated in his monu-
mental work on the Pharisees
that the clash between the urban
and the rural points of view
underlies the basic differences
between the Pharisees and the
Sadducees. The former he iden-
tifies with the urban-plebian
classes, while the latter he
equates with the rural-patrician
interests.
Chancellor Finkelstein demon-
strate how the differences in so-
cial outlook between plebian and
patrician color their attitudes
toward such doctrines as Resur-
rection, Immortality, Angelology,
Free Will and other basic phil-
osophical and theological issues.
This sociological analysis is not
limited to the two centuries of
the Pharisaic-Sadducean period.
Tracing the roots of the Sad-
ducean views to the aristocratic
landowners of the First Common-
wealth, our author projects the

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1 1 — THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS — Friday, April 26, 1963

Dr. Finkelstein's Pharisees' Reissued
by JPS in 2-Volume Edition, with Addenda

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