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THE Jewish history has judiciously been divided into two grand periods ; the former period reaching from Abraham to Christ, the latter including all the time that has passed since: and the Jews living in these two periods have respectively been distinguished as ancient and modern.*
Judaism requires the same distinction. Ancient Judaism
may be defined as the system of doctrines and rites taught and prescribed in the Old Testament; which were retained, though amidst much general corruption, till the time of Christ. Modern Judaism comprehends the Opinions, Traditions, Rites, and Ceremonies, which began to be received and practised before the destruction of the second temple, were afterwards enlarged and embodied in the Cabbalistic and Talmudic writings, and have been professed and followed by the great body of the Jewish people, without any material alteration,
modernos Judæos à veteribus ita discernimus, ut veterum • ætatem inde ab Abrahamo u sque ad adventum Christi deducamus! • modernorum inde à Christi adventu - Jo. Ben. Carpzovii Introduct. in Theol. Jud. c. ii. s. 3.
down to the present day. To collect information respecting this system, and to exhibit it to the public in a compendious form, has been the design of the Author in the following work. He is not acquainted with any other work on this subject, uniting the comprehension of plan and conciseness of detail which he proposed to himself. How far his attempt has succeeded, others must determine.
In.procuring materials from every source within his reach, in separating the correct from the erroneous, and in selecting and arranging the most interesting and important particulars, he has spared neither time nor labour. For most of his statements he has referred to written authorities : in the few accounts communicated from oral information, he has been careful to satisfy himself of their authenticity: and of some of the circumstances which he has described, he has, in more instances than he has thought necessary to mention, been an eye and ear witness.
Most of the works cited in the notes, are referred to as authorities for the statements contained in the text : some of them furnish details which the limits of the present volume would not allow to be included : and others give accounts and representations which the Author thought he had reason to reject, or maintain opinions from which he felt
himself obliged to dissent. These references are inserted for the sake of those readers who may have inclination and opportunity for further inquiries into these subjects.
The Author is not uninformed that within the last few years infidelity has gained some converts among the Jews, especially in Prussia ; and that some members of the synagogue evince as little veneration for Moses as for Christ. But these are inconsiderable exceptions to the great body of their nation. He is also aware that the Israelites convened at Paris in the year 1806, commonly called the Parisian Sanhedrim, in their answers to the questions proposed by the French Government, professed principles at variance, in a few points, with the statements of Jewish opinions given in the following pages. But he regards the transactions connected with that assembly as the mere effects of state policy on the one hand and of temporizing servility on the other, and therefore unworthy of being taken into the account.
The plan of this work not being polemical, the Author has refrained as far as possible, from discussions of theological doctrines, or questions at issue between Jews and Christians : but he has not been able to avoid some disquisitions which may be considered as controversial. These how
ever will be found to relate, chiefly if not entirely, to matters of historical credibility or incredibility; such as, the pretensions of the Jews respecting their oral law. Impartiality appeared to require that their own account of it should be submitted to the reader; and truth called for an examination of its claims and an exposure of their futility. In the notes, he has sometimes indulged a latitude of remark, which, if not allowed to be strictly within the limits of his plan, he hopes will at least be excused as pardonable digression.
A firm believer in Christianity himself, the Author cannot but contemplate Modern Judaism as an awful delusion.
The predictions of the prophets appear to him to be strikingly fulfilled, not only in the dispersion, sufferings, and preservation of the Jews, but also in the moral darkness which has enveloped their minds, the errors which have infatuated their hearts, ever since they shut their eyes to the day-spring from on high, and rejected the wisdom of God.
But while he would disclaim the idea of neutrality, he has studied to be impartial; neither to extenuate nor exaggerate, but to describe things as they are. The cause of Christianity neither needs nor sanctions the least misrepresentation of its bitterest opponents. If the censures occa