The overcrowded shelves of books about "Judaism" hardly have room for still another volume. This one, however, serves a particular purpose in a particular context. The context is a beginning course in the academic study of religions, and the purpose is to introduce into such a course pertinent materials drawn from the Judaic tradition. Most concretely, the focus is Frederick J. Streng, Understanding Religious Man, and related volumes in the Religious Life of Man series. Streng provides the theoretical framework for what follows, which should therefore be seen as a Judaic commentary on "the religious life of man."
I have included long quotations of prayers, Talmudic pericopae, ethical wills, and similar traditional materials. It seemed to me these are the best means of entering authentic Judaic life. On the other hand, I have not introduced important aspects of the history of Judaism, including systematic theology, philosophy of religion, mystical doctrine and experience, the history of the Jews as a people, and similar central issues. At the outset the student should take seriously the suggestions for further reading, knowing that only a few basic matters are touched on here.
The materials in Part III are based upon my From Theology to Ideology: The Transmutations of Judaism in Modern Times given at a conference on The Religious Institution and Modernism, sponsored by the American Universities Field Staff, held at Indiana University in October, 1966, and published in K. H. Silvert , ed., Churches and States: The Religious Institution and Modernization (New York: American Universities Field Staff, 1967), pp. 13-50. I have revised the paper substantially, but the basic perspectives are unchanged. In my American Judaism: Adventure in Modernity (Englewood Cliffs: Prentice-Hall, 1972), I have expanded these approaches and applied them specifically to the American situation. My view of the study of Torah and the rabbi is spelled out in sections of my History of the Jews in Babylonia, Vols. I-V (Leiden, 1965-1969), There We Sat down: Talmudic Judaism in the Making (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1972) and From Politics to Piety: The Emergence of Pharisaic Judaism (Englewood Cliffs: Prentice Hall, 1973). These textbooks deal, respectively, with Babylonian Talmudic Judaism from the second through the sixth centuries A.D., and that sect in Palestinian Judaism between the second century B.C. and the late first century A.D.