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Vol. 10, No. 4 Summer 1992 125 been quite different from the study of any other language and, to a certain extent, continues to be is intriguing and requires some explanation. Most of the traditional studies, it seems to me, are motivated either by the desire to give Yiddish a certain legitimacy-something that it already has, but which somehow people doubt-or to make it somehow unique among the languages of mankind-something that it isn't, but that people often feel it ought to be. What we see in the more traditional studies is a scholarly demonstration of the ambivalence that Yiddish speakers themselves have always felt. For them, Yiddish is, at one and the same time, mame-loshn and zhargon, the former a special and beloved part of the Ashkenazic experience, the latter an illegitimate child of the diaspora. In that Studies in Yiddish Linguistics includes some works on standard linguistic topics, it reflects a partial lessening of the emotional, nonscientific attitude toward Yiddish that even self-proclaimed scientists of the language have traditionally harbored. In that it also includes a number of works that are well outside of the scientific mainstream, it shows that subjectivity still plagues the study of Yiddish. jerrold M. Sadock Department of Linguistics University of Chicago In the Beginning: Biblical Creation and Science, by Nathan Aviezer. Hoboken, N.J: KTi\V, 1990. 138 pp. $15.95. Most humans who think deeply about the foundations of their fundamental beliefs will seek to establish some type of "consonance" between the various facets of these underpinnings. The quest for such consonance by a person who is both an observant .Jew and a research scientist is the subject of this interesting little book. Physics professor Nathan Aviezer of Bar I1an University makes clear that the basis of his faith in orthodox judaism is first and foremost the Torah, but that he is nevertheless elated to find that many features of the Torah, in particular the story of creation in the Book of Genesis, appear (to him) to be corroborated by contemporary discoveries and theories in· physics, cosmology, astronomy, geology; meteorology, biology, and anthropology. Another book in the same vein (also written by a physicist and observant jew) has recently appeared (Genesis and the Big Bang: The Discovery of Harmony Between Science and the Bible, by Gerald L Schroeder, Ph.D. [New York: Bantam Books, 1990I)· 126 SHOFAR The style of Aviezer's exposition is to give very brief summaries of relevant elements of modern science and then to use them to elucidate key phrases in the Book of Genesis (suitably interpreted). He does not attempt to give a balanced discussion of his particular Torah interpretations or of the associated science, but instead piCks and chooses those Torah commentators and scientific opinions which support his thesis. To his credit, the scientists he quotes are consistently well respected, but some of their views (for example, those concerning the primeval fireball or "Big Bang" theory of the creation of the universe, or the theory of evolution of species) are open to well deserved criticism from some of their equally competent colleagues. From the outset, Professor Aviezer dispenses with -the literal interpretation of the six Biblical days of creation as ordinary 24-hourdays (an action certainly:not supported by many tradi~ional Torah commentators) and regards them as six specific phases in the development of the universe .The seventh day (Sabbath) is interpreted as an ordinary 24-hour day, with the six phases of creation also' being referred to as days in order to strengthen the connection between the Sabbath and the completion of the universe which it marks. Some details of the .. Big Bang" theory are found to be reflected in the opening verses of Genesis. For example, the separation of "the light from the darkness" is claimed to refer to' the' escape of light (electromagnetic radiation) from its confinement in the initial stages of the primeval fireball. The separation .of "the waters' which' ·were ·below. the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament" is linked with the known abundance of water (ice) in outer space (above the firmament) as well as on earth, and .the gathering...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1534-5165
Print ISSN
0882-8539
Pages
pp. 125-127
Launched on MUSE
2012-10-03
Open Access
No
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