Publisher Description

This is a religion book. An orderly disposition, according to our notions of order, is not, however, so constant a characteristic of Jewish literature as to make this inference very convincing. Manuscript A was evidently written by a negligent scribe, perhaps after a poor or badly preserved copy; B, which represents a somewhat different recension of the work, exhibits, so far as it goes, a superior text. When it is added that both manuscripts are in many places defaced or torn, it may be imagined that the decipherment and interpretation present serious difficulties, and that, er all the pains which Dr. Schechter has spent upon the task-, many uncertainties remain. Facsimiles of a page of each manuscript are given; but in view of the condition of the text a photographic reproduction of the whole is indispensable. The legal part of the book, so far as the text is fairly well preserved, is not exceptionally difficult; the rules are in general clearly defined, and if in the peculiar institutions of the sect there are many things we do not fully understand, this is due more to the brevity with which its organization is described and to the mutilation of the text than to lack of clearness in the description itself. The attempt to make out something of the history and relations of the sect from the first part of the book is, on the other hand, beset by many difficulties. What history is found there is not told for the sake of history, but used to point admonitions or emphasize warnings; and, after the manner of the apocalyptic literature, historical persons and events are referred to in roundabout phrases which envelop them in an affected mystery. Even when such references are to chapters of the national history with which we are moderately well acquainted, as in the Assumption of Moses, c.5, ff., for example, they may be to us baffling enigmas; much more when they have to do, as is in large part the case in our texts, with the wholly unknown internal or external history of a sect. The obscurity is increased by the fact that the allusions are often a tissue of fragmentary quotations or reminiscences out of the Old Testament, chosen and combined, it seems, by purely verbal association, or taken in an occult allegorical sense. The It may be added that the quotations are singularly inexact.

Religion & Spirituality
April 12
Public Domain
Public Domain

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