Modern Trends in World Religions

By A. Eustace Haydon | Go to book overview

II
JUDAISM AND MODERN SCIENTIFIC THINKING

BY MORDECAI M. KAPLAN

IN CONTRAST with the vague and conflicting notions which prevail at present, both among Jews and non- Jews, concerning Judaism, there was a time--and that not so long ago--when there was no such uncertainty about it. It was then easy to describe the nature of Judaism because it could be formulated in terms of the world- outlook which in its main outlines was accepted by all the nations, both Christian and Mohammedan, among whom the Jews lived. That world-outlook was based upon the following three presuppositions: (1) the Old Testament account of the creation of the world and of the beginnings of the human race is not only authentic but constitutes the premise of all that man should know and strive for; (2) the destiny of man cannot possibly be fulfilled in this present life, which is as a fleeting shadow, but in the life eternal, in the perfect world which God will bring into being, and (3) the only way man can prove worthy of salvation is by living in accordance with the supernaturally revealed will of God. Jewry, Christendom, and Islam accepted these three assumptions in principle. The only question was: What constitutes the final authoritative revelation of God's will, obedience to which is essential to salvation? Is it the Torah, Christ, or the Koran?

The reason there are many Judaisms today in place of the one which existed in the past is that there is no longer any one pattern of thought uniformly accepted by civilized mankind. The breakdown of the traditional ideology of

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