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Paganism - Christianity - Judaism

A Confession of Faith

Written by Max Brod, introdcution by Eric Gottgetreu and translated by William W

Publication Year: 2010

Now remembered primarily as Franz Kafta's friend and literary executor, Max Brod was an accomplishered thinker and writer in his own right. In this volume, he considers the nature and differences between Judaism and Christianity, addressing some of the most perplexing questions at the heart of human existence.

“One of the most famous and widely discussed books of the 1920’s, Max Brod’s Paganism—Christianity—Judaism, has at last found its way into English translation to confront a new generation of readers. Max Brod is best remembered today as the literary editor and friend of Franz Kafka. In his day, however, he was the more famous of the two by far. A major novelist, playwright, poet, essayist, and composer, he was also, as this book demonstrates, a serious thinker on the perennial questions that are at the heart of human existence. . . .Some of his judgments are open to question. Still, with all its limitations, this is a forthright and passionate proclamation of the uniqueness of Judaism. Paganism—Christianity—Judaism was an intellectual and spiritual event when it was first published and it remains a valuable document even now.” —Rabbi Jack Riemer, Hadassah

Published by: The University of Alabama Press

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Foreword to the English Translation

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pp. vii-xiii

It is hardly surprising that during this long interval the author's experiences-mostly painful ones-have multiplied and his insights have somewhat matured. A Greek sage said long ago: "Only beatings lead to education" -an observation that Goethe would later make the motto of his autobiography. My own generation has received too...

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1. The Three Powers

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pp. 3-12

The shortcomings of such a procedure are well-known. The visible and tangible world cannot be caught. It escapes through the holes of the net. The author is hence reminded not to over-estimate himself and particularly his first formulas, but rather to refine them more and more so as to come close to reality, keeping in mind all...

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2. Noble and Ignoble Misfortune

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pp. 13-25

Clearly distinguishable from that unavoidable misfortune there is a demonic horde of obscure abominations which seem to attach to man in an equally inescapable manner, and yet, as seen again and again from the examples of individuals and of historical development in general, they are rejected and burst like bubbles. In this cruel...

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3. The Realm of Freedom in Judaism

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pp. 26-44

I shall prove later that this deviation of Christianity from the Jewish attitude is not a coincidence. It is not a secondary distinction but rather an immediate consequence of the basic structure of Christianity with its belief in Christ or, more exactly, in the vicarious sacrificial death of the Son of God, for the sins of all mankind and...

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4. The Realm of Humility in Judaism

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pp. 45-76

For the time being we are not concerned with the freedom of the will. The question is not whether man's will is predetermined but rather how far the influence of the will reaches, be it determined or not. Here we conclude that our decision can create the deed, the proper conduct, but not the desired feeling, like kindness, love of...

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5. The Incompatibility of the Correlated

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pp. 77-95

Ignoble misfortune requires active intervention, noble misfortune- except for the lowest level-humble waiting. These attitudes exclude each other. He who is eager to interfere soon acquires the wild charge of a Theodore Roosevelt, a sound eagerness for hunting, laughing cheeks tanned by the air of the sea, and the facts of noble...

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6. Grace and the This-Worldly Miracle

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pp. 96-114

Of him who has become profoundly aware of the "incompatibility of the contrasts" and has been exalted through grace, Christianity demands a renunciation of this world. The Christian thus "reborn" turns away from this world. According to the Protestant view, his good or evil deeds are of no concern any longer, since sin has been...

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7. Love as a This-Worldly Miracle: Dante, Kierkegaard

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pp. 115-140

Two great lovers, Christians of the very first order, come close to me Jewish attitude towards the world, as far as their experience is concerned. We shall still have to investigate their particular attitude to the Christ-idea as the cause of that strange spiritual relationship. We are talking of Dante and...

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8. Love as a This-Worldly Miracle: The Song of Songs

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pp. 141-168

For love is impossible without a positive attitude towards this world, as it is viewed by Judaism, at least potentially. Without that positive attitude each one of us is tied to God with a wire, and we act without being connected with one another, in an ethical puppet theater. To the consistent Christian, a direct feeling between man...

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9. The Faulty Foundation of Christianity

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pp. 169-201

These are the elements of Judaism which we have uncovered: the distinction between noble and ignoble misfortune, the call of man to face both complexes with the proper attitude, conscious of his moral freedom as far as ignoble misfortune is concerned, and, aware of his shortcomings, humbled in the face of noble misfortune; we have...

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10. The Christian Grace of Generalization: Paul and Jesus

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pp. 202-229

This is true as long as we stick to historical facts. But it is incorrect if behind the lights and shades of history we see the solitary and unseemly lamp of the soul in motion. It is true that Paul quite literally created the construction. Jesus himself mentioned hardly anything about it, but even this proves nothing, since we see Jesus only...

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11. The Christian–Pagan Amalgamation

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pp. 230-253

But the final word has not yet been said. I caught the Christian stream at its middle section, where, having run through the clever discussions of scholasticism, it passes by the cities of the sixteenth century with their religious concerns and their decisive attempt though following the wrong direction-of reestablishing the first...

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12. Judaism and Internationalism

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pp. 254-265

It can of course not be predicted in what manner Judaism would exercise its influence on Christianity. A direct way seems neither desirable nor possible. Nevertheless, if Jewish thinking were really known in the world, it would have a reforming and invigorating effect on religiosity, and stimulate a creative development within the...

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Epilogue: Concerning the Talmud

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pp. 266-274

And yet I think that great strides could be made if Jewish thought as expressed in the Talmud were to become known to non-Jews as well as to modern Jews, although it is almost impossible to read the Talmud-in the original or in a translation-without the help of an instructor. And even a teacher might not be interested in those...

Index of Persons

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pp. 275-276

E-ISBN-13: 9780817385477
Print-ISBN-13: 9780817356637

Publication Year: 2010