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September 27, 1963 - Image 11

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1963-09-27

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

"The Hebrew Scriptures—An
Introduction to Their Litera-
ture and Religious Ideas," by
Dr. Samuel Sandmel, Provost
of Hebrew Union College-Jew-
ish Institute of Religion at
Cincinnati, published by Knopf,
is a monumental work.
Its value lies especially in the
fact. emphasized by the author,
that it is a book "addressed to
the beginner, not the scholar,"
that "it is a
nontechnical
introduction,
nontechnical
in the sense
that when
word or terms
in the biblical
Hebrew are
used, they are 0,,
invariably
plained, and
an introduc-
tion in the
sense that it
assumes little
or no previous Dr. Sandmel
knowledge on the part of the
reader."
It is of value also to indicate
that Prof. Sandmel's aim in
writing his book was:

"To acquaint the reader
who goes on to become a
biblical scholar in the fullest
technical sense with basic
material that he will not have
to unlearn."

Therefore the evaluations
contained in Dr. Sandmel's
work on biblical literature is
in no sense a substitute for the
13ible, but becomes "a tool" for
biblical students.
The reader is prepared for
adequate biblical study by the
author's proper explanations of
historical antecedents, the "sub-
stance and shape" that came
from the pre-exilic period, and

the outlines of Israel's religion
that we formed by the Wilder-
ness.
Since all the prophetic books
in the Old Testament are cov-
ered in Dr. Sandmel's analysis,
after an analysis of the pre-
liminaries, the chronological
chart with which the book com-
mences gives the reader an
idea of the periods in pre-
Christian history covered by the
author.
At the very outset. there is
a realistic approach to the sub-
ject in Dr. Sandmel's assertion:

"More people praise the
Bible than read it. More read
it than understand it, and
more understand it than con-
scientiously follow it."

Because the book is limited
to the Hebrew Scriptures, the
reader at once is made aware of
the basic contents of the Bible,
which is described as a library
are regarding which the author
states:
"The individual volumes were
written by diverse men at di-
verse times, and, indeed, some
single volumes, such as the Book
of Isaiah with its 66 chapters,
are themselves the products of
men living in different times.
The Bible, as it is commonly
understood by Christians, con-
sists of two major divisions. The
Old Testament, reckoned by
them as the first division, is that
earlier collection of books made
by Jews, while the New Testa-
ment, the second division, was
made later by Christians, the Old
and New Testaments constitut-
ing for Christians one single
Bible. Jews, on the other hand,
do not regard the New Testa-
ment as part of their Bible;
when Jews speak of Bible, they
mean what Christians mean by
Old Testament; the term that

Jews customarily use is Tanak
(tah-nahk)."
Because transliterations vary,
the footnote at this point de-
serves mentioning: The term
(Tanak) is formed from the first
letters of the names of the
three divisions, Torah ("Revela-
tion"), Neviitn ("Prophets"),
and Kesuvim ("Writings"). Jews
actually pronounce the word
Tanach, ending with the Ger-
man ch, not k.

In his treatment of histori-
cal data about all the books
in the Hebrew Scriptures,
covering the events that
motivated the writings and
the auguries, Dr. Sandmel
provides the explanations
that are so vitally needed
for a proper understanding
and appreciation of the Bible.

its full credentials for en-
trance into Scripture, espe-
cially in the light of its
having been ascribed to
Solomon." The book, he
states, was kept alive because
it was the "Song of Songs,"
which could be expressed in
English as "the Best of All
Songs." He adds: "The
ancient Hebrews not only
considered physical love
beautiful, but, as their in-
clusion of Song of Songs in
Scripture testifies, believed
that it could be holy as well."
There are, of course, exten-
sive reviews of the ethical,
moral and spiritual values in
the numerous biblical works.
For example, about Isaiah he
states: "Isaiah was the first
man to insist that Yahve is
discerned in history and con-
trols history; the message,
therefore, represents a mile-
stone in Hebrew thought.
Since Yahve controls history,
the pious should have re-
course to Him rather than to
Assyria or Egypt—this was
Isaiah's message. Although
decency and honesty were
also retruired of Israel, the
only policy that could and
would prevail was faith in
Yahve."

sees Jeremiah's significant con-
tribution as marking a transi
tion from the old Hebrew re-
ligion to Judaism: "The old
Hebrew religion was inexorably
bound to end in doom; no other
fate could result from cumula-
tive guilt. Judaism, on the
the Five Books of Moses and
of the Deuteronomic histories,
Joshua, Judges, Samuel,
Chronicles, Ezra Nehemiah,
Ruth, Jonah and Esther follow
the descriptions of the
prophetic works.

Appended to the book, which
includes many maps prepared
by Theodore R. Miller, are
essays on Archeology and the
Tanak, The Sacred Calendar
and the Priesthood, The Tanak
in Judaism and The Tanak in
Christianity; a selected biblio-
graphy and Scriptural and
subject indicates.

"The Hebrew Scriptures" de-
serve a high rank in interpre-
To Jeremiah does the author
tive biblical literature and its
tribute that although the
author, Dr. Samuel Sandmel,
prophet suffered personal frus-
has rendered a distinct service
trations and physical dangers
to students of the Bible with
it is a mark of the man's great-
this impressive work.
ness that, "although he had
suffered so much through ob-
A bargain is something you
serving the failings of his fel-
don't need, at a price you can't
low men, yet he could point to
resist.
the future with hope and with
Then there is his view on
confidence."
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Post-exilic prophecies are in- Jeremiah's role, and the author
terestingly evaluate d. The
Psalms are described as "the
lyrical masterpiece of the
Tanak." and the Book of Job
as "the literary masterpiece.
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Dr. Sandmel explains that
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the Book of Lamentations,
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About the Song of Songs,
Dr. Sandmel asserts that "in
Judaism and especially in
Christianity the allegorical
interpretation gave the book

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11 — THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS — Frid ay , S ept. 27, 1.963

Sandmel's Monumental 'Hebrew Scriptures'
Renders Distinct Service to Bible Students

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