Studies in the Bible and Jewish Thought

By Moshe Greenberg | Go to book overview

Mankind, Israel, and the Nations in the Hebraic Heritage
1971

If the needs of the hour seem to have outrun the resources of venerable religious bodies, this is due at least in part to a pious reluctance to sift critically the accumulated traditions they have received in order to distinguish the timeless and needful from the ephemeral and dispensable. The configuration of rites, ideas, and attitudes taught to the common people by today's religions often reflects a level of civilization and human interconnection long since past. Robert Redfield has described well the interaction of the moral and the technical orders and their relative progress:

The unit of political life tends to become identified with a people who share a common moral life...So the tribe, the city-state, the nation are such approximate identifications of equivalent units of society, peoples that are both a technical and a moral unit. Yet as one looks at any one of these politico-moral societal types...one sees that the technical order, in the form of exchange of goods and in the conflict of war, has already gone beyond the politico-moral unit...; and one begins to look forward to the extension of the moral order to larger societal units, which will in turn call for political inventions. Today, some people, recognizing that the technical order has gone far beyond the national state, and that its destructive power threatens everyone, begin to argue that the peace of the world must be planned by all the peoples of the world...and then, looking at the fact that these visions have come and begin to be transmuted into plans for action, one is required to admit that the fact that people speak as if world order and world peace must and will come about is itself influential in history...The idea that a world community is necessary is an idea created by devel

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