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Nation or Religious Community? Presidential Address

Claude G. Montefiore

<plain_text><page sequence="1">THE JEWISH HISTORICAL SOCIETY OF ENGLAND. NATION OR RELIGIOUS COMMUNITY? PRESIDENTIAL ADDRESS. Delivered December 3, 1899, by Claude G. Montefiohe, M.A. I hope there is some satisfactory reason, not clearly explained or apparent to myself, why the honour was offered me of becoming President of the Jewish Historical Society for the coming year. I trust it is not because there is any lack of earnest students of history in your ranks; I also trust it was not to see what a man who knows no history would make of the Introductory Address. At any rate, whatever the reason, the offer was made; authorities and forces, whose power there was no gainsaying, ordered acceptance, and so the question immediately arose, what was I to say at this inaugural function ? I recalled a casual remark once made to me by the late Professor Graetz, who said that Jewish history was the most exacting of all histories, because it demanded a good working knowledge of most other histories, and of most languages whether living or dead. It might be added that the philosophic study of Jewish history needs for its setting and its commentary a study of the philosophy of history. The relations, for instance, of race, religion, and country to each other; the growth and change of such ideas as patriotism and citizen vol. iv. a</page><page sequence="2">2 NATION OR RELIGIOUS COMMUNITY? ship?these important subjects should first of all be studied generally, and then illustrated by Jewish history, while finally, reversing the order, the conclusions obtained from the vicissitudes of a single people should be tested by the lessons and deductions of universal history. The curious anomaly that the student of a small and isolated race must, as it were, blossom out into a student of universal history is, after all, only in right keeping with the anomalies of the Jewish position as a whole. Of what strange and various reflections the Jews can be the subject! How many curious contradictions they seem to include ! Take the primary point of all. Here we have a race with its own religion?just as in the ancient world. Yet here we have a race whose members live as citizens of many countries, with whose populations they have ethnographically nothing to do, and who main? tain the distinctively modern dogma that creed and citizenship need not and should not coincide. Thus on the one hand the Jews seem to be the anachronistic survivals of pre-Roman civilisation ; on the other hand, if they are to live in Europe at all, it must be as the adherents, and on the strength of ideas which did not become familiar or even suitable to the nations of the West until after the upheaval of the French Revolution. When we pass from the Jews to Judaism, from the race to its creed, what contradictions and combinations do we not here, too, find ! For here also we have the old and the new, the ancient and the modern. Here are laws or customs which reflect and maintain the religious curiosities of a pre-historic age, and yet here are a monotheism and a rationalism in harmony even from their beginnings with the tone and temper of the modern world. It is not inconsistent with the opposing forces within Judaism and the Jewish race, that we have recently seen a fresh cleavage and a new party. For Judaism has so many facets, and the Jewish race has so many anomalies, that a variety of interpretations is only natural and probable. Thus we now have the Zionist interpretation and the Zionist party, who find recruits from all previous parties, and equally from all previous parties find opponents. Hard, said the old Greek proverb, hard is the good. It is in no disloyalty to Judaism, but, on the contrary, as an adherent, that I venture to say that if any honest and clear-sighted person finds any one of the interpretations or positions?the orthodox position, the</page><page sequence="3">NATION OR RELIGIOUS COMMUNITY 1 3 reform position, the Zionist position, the wholesale assimilation posi? tion?quite easy and adequate, whether theoretically or practically, he has either thought very little about the whole subject, or (I give him the benefit, you see, of a fair alternative) he has thought an enormous deal. jNot only is the century passing away amid practical troubles and sorrows for the Jewish race of a pressing and grievous kind, not only is the actual outlook full of anxiety and gloom, but, from what I may call the theoretical point of view, the situation and the environment are darkened with perplexity and doubt. Doctrines which seemed settled once for all are again being raised or attacked. Conclusions which seemed assured are being questioned anew. There have been strange recrudescences of a narrower nationalism, and in the largest empire of Europe the effort is still being persistently made to obtain a complete coincidence among its citizens of religion, language, and race. The whole problem of the relations of race, religion, and country to one another has become more difficult and conspicuous in recent years. For the Jews themselves the matter is specially urgent and intricate. We are seemingly separated from other Europeans by a double bar: we are of another race and also of another creed. The creed and the race coincide. None are of our creed who are not of our race. The isolation therefore seems complete; the barrier too great to be entirely broken down. Again, while all Europe is nomi? nally Christian and its religious differences are differences within the Christian limit, the Jews stand outside that limit and profess what is called a non-Christian religion. Further, Christianity, though of oriental origin, has become occidentalised, but Judaism, so we are told by both friends and foes, was, and is, and always must be, an essen? tially oriental creed. Thus, either there must be a dissonance and contradiction in our own lives, inasmuch as our western work days will clash with our oriental faith, whereas human life should be a harmonious unity, in which creed and citizenship act and react in perfect accord upon each other; or the faith and the race will be too strong for the citizenship, and our skin-deep occidentalism will in the long run become impossible for ourselves and a trouble to our neigh? bours. Here, indeed, are many serious difficulties, and the easiest way out of them may not necessarily be the truest or the best.</page><page sequence="4">4 NATION OR RELIGIOUS COMMUNITY? This I say in my own defence or by way of anticipation, for certainly at first sight the easiest interpretation of the facts, including as it does a practical goal for present and future labour, is that of our latter-day nationalists, and more especially of those among them for whom religion takes a secondary place, or is no longer a subject of pressing and personal interest. It may be argued that the strong nationalist movements and sen? timents which are an obvious characteristic of the present age are in the main healthy and desirable. As with the family, so with the nation. It must be saved, and not destroyed. From the love of the family man can pass to the love of the nation, and from the love of the nation to the love of humanity, but the single larger love must not annihilate the smaller two, it must only temper their abuses, and shape them to higher ends. Patriotism will still remain a great moving and civilising force. A new nation added to the existing number, or an old nation re-born and readmitted into the band, is so much fresh wealth to the world's spiritual treasury. The Jews are a nation in all respects but one; they lack a home, a state, a country, a fatherland; give them these, and all the good which comes of patriotism and national life will come to them, and through them unto the world, while all the evils and sorrows which spring from a homeless nation scattered as wandering guests upon reluctant hosts will gradually diminish and disappear. Within quite modern times we have seen several fresh states added to the world's map, and these new additions have been in the nature of revivals and resurrections. Who shall venture to set a limit to such possibilities ? Even though the Greeks and Bulgarians were for the most part on the spot, and though they all still spoke their national language as a living tongue, and though they were not scattered over the world's surface and did not differ from each other in a hundred separating ways, and even though they had not, wherever the breath of freedom and of toleration blew, rapidly and readily assimi? lated in thought and habits with the neighbours among whom they dwelt, still, even though all this was not the case, the idea of a re-born Greece and of a re-born Bulgaria would doubtless have been scouted as absurd, only a century before the absurdity became reality. NowT, if the saying be accurate that "the roots of the present</page><page sequence="5">NATION OR RELIGIOUS COMMUNITY ? 5 lie deep in the past," it may well be that the past can throw some light upon the problems of the present. My own small leisure for study has been devoted to the earlier history of the Jewish religion. But this does not put me so utterly out of court in the discussion of the wider and more general problem as might be supposed. For, as I venture to believe, it is the religious factor which must either be the rock against which Jewish nationalism will suffer shipwreck or which must itself be ruined in the fray. We look back across the ages to the Davidic and pre-Davidic periods, and we find Israel in its own land and not, as it would seem, greatly different, whether in thought or religion, from its neighbours around. The land, the people, and the God are, as it were, mixed up together. The God?in the opinion of his people?lives in the land or near it; he gives to his clients their food and drink; he fights their battles; he shares in their victories; he is their legislator and their judge; their glory is his. The glow of religion and the glow of patriotism are one and the same. All this is just what we find in a dozen other ancient peoples. Religion is national. Politics are religious. Each is nourished by its complement or counterpart. But this common and comfortable coincidence is broken in upon by other tendencies of opposing kinds and by special characteristics. On the one hand there was early displayed the Jewish capacity to imitate and to assimilate; on the other hand there was the fact that the national divinity was single, and that he did not brook beside himself either rival or partner. By certain persons in the nation, all imitation of neighbouring rites and all additions to the one national God were regarded as treason and apostasy. And why was Yahveh thus exclusive ? Why was he so jealous? Because to these men he seemed other than the gods of the neighbouring nations, and "other" because better, purer, more righteous. Now in this " other and better" there lay the germs of universalism. The local god of the nation is transforming himself into the universal God of the world. And note the immediate incon? sistency. Yahveh is much more exclusive than any other god; in one sense therefore he is much more national, just as he certainly in one sense fosters and strengthens an intense national consciousness; but from another point of view, though or even because he is more ex</page><page sequence="6">6 NATION Oil RELIGIOUS COMMUNITY ? elusive, be is also more universal than any other god, more like the one nameless God of the whole modern and Western world. It is this exclusive universalism?if an illustrative contradiction in terms may be employed?which on the one hand preserved the people amid peculiar trials, and on the other hand made it so unlike any other people as almost to denationalise it altogether. Assyria, and then Babylon, made the Jews for the first time familiar with an empire, a union of many peoples in the compass of a single state. But, novel and stimulating as this phenomenon was, it did not tend to any clear solution of the difficulties which the ex? panding Jewish religion was bringing about. The provinces of Babylon were won and were held by the sword. There was no larger and common patriotism overshadowing provincial or national patriotisms as in the case of imperial Rome. Apart from the Jews, the religious result of Assyrian or Babylonian dominion tended, I fancy, not to universalism, or to the common worship of any supreme God, but to a syncretistic confusion which made for degradation rather than for progress. So far as the Jews were concerned, a national as well as a religious exclusiveness still went hand in hand; each was needed to preserve the other. The famous letter of Jeremiah may serve as the text for many a modern sermon on patriotism, but exegetically and historically it does not imply any interest in Babylonian prosperity, except in so far as, in the prophet's judgment, the welfare of his people temporarily depended upon the welfare of Babylon. Were things different after the return, when the Jews, once more in their own land, formed a province of the Persian empire 1 Hardly. No Jew felt himself to be a Persian citizen of the Jewish faith. Such an idea would have seemed absurd or unintelligible. During the Persian period the Jews were often keenly sensitive of their dependent position; it was a grief and irritation to them that the glowing pre? dictions of their prophets had been so glaringly unfulfilled. They yearned for national independence and Messianic dominion. Never? theless the ^Persian period probably witnessed the beginnings of tendencies which were sapping an ordinary secular nationalism at its roots. The priestly code and its ideals now became prominent. Its promoters and disciples aimed at the production of a holy nation, whose main business should be the law and the glory of God. It was to differ</page><page sequence="7">NATION Oll RELIGIOUS COMMUNITY? 7 essentially from all other kingdoms and peoples. To a very consider? able extent the aim succeeded. In the current phrase of modern critics, it was sought to transform the nation into a church. It did not so greatly matter whether a church was politically inde? pendent or not. So long as its members were allowed to practise their laws and to fulfil their religious obligations undisturbed, the question of suzerainty was of very secondary importance. Thus here was a tendency running counter to mere nationalist cravings. It tended to change a nation into a religious brotherhood or community. There was another tendency operating in the same direction. The two hundred years of the Persian period saw the beginnings of Jewish proselytism. It is quite true that he who joined the Jewish religion joined the Jewish people, for the two were still identified with each other. But he joined the people for the sake of the people's religion. For the sake of religion he, as it were, divested himself of his old nationality and assumed a new one. Thus here too, and in this way also, the religion is beginning to dominate over the nation; the reli? gion does not exist for the sake of the nation, and nation and religion are neither equal nor co-ordinate, but the nation exists for the sake of the religion : it is its shell, its embodiment. Pass now from the Persian to the Greek period. We all know how in politics, as well as in art, morality, and philosophy, new con ceptions entered with Greece into the world's history. A double patriotism was known in Hellas from a comparatively early period. There was first of all patriotism towards one's own state, and secondly, though seldom existing in adequate force and purity to break down the wall of particularistic selfishness, there was the larger patriotism towards Hellas as a whole. On the one side were the Hellenes, on the other the Barbarians. The interesting thing for our purpose to note is that this larger patriotism, this higher national consciousness, was neither purely local nor purely racial. It tended to rest not merely on a common ancestry and a common past, but on a peculiar culture, on a conception of life which might even be shared in and adopted by those who were not of Hellenic blood. Even before Alexander, Isocrates, " loyal and genuine Hellene as he was," can yet conceive of a Hellenised barbarian. Then Greece under the leadership of Alexander destroys the</page><page sequence="8">8 NATION OR RELIGIOUS COMMUNITY ? Persian empire, and a new era in the world's history begins. For Judaism also, and for the Jewish race, Alexander's conquests are of determining importance. The real expansion of Judaism (of which the small beginnings date back to the Persian period) follows upon or runs parallel with the expansion of Hellenism. To the Hellenistic period in Greek history, there corresponds what we might call the Judaistic period in Jewish history. The idea begins to suggest itself that the Jewish religion may cover a wider area than the members of the Jewish race. " And Zion each one calls Mother; yea, each one was born therein." Into any description of Hellenistic Judaism, which continued with momentous results into the Roman period, I can of course not enter. I admit fully and freely that it did not produce any quite satisfactory settlement or solution of the relations between religion and race. Even outside Palestine, in the huge Diaspora, this was still the case. Ritual religion entered too largely into public and everyday life for the exclusive and by this time sternly monotheistic Jew to feel himself one with his fellow-subjects of other races and creeds, or for them to feel easy and at home with him. The greatest conception to which any Jew attained in the age of the Diadochoi can hardly be other than that soaring flight of prophetic imagination, in which, through the uniting and healing bond of true religion, the two great kingdoms of the age are conceived of as reconciled to each other, to Israel and to God. "In that day shall there be a highway out of Egypt to Assyria (i.e. to Syria, the kingdom of the Seleucids), and the Assyrian shall come into Egypt, and the Egyptian into Assyria, and the Egyptians shall serve with the Assyrians. In that day shall Israel be the third with Egypt and Assyria, even a blessing in the midst of the earth, which the Lord of Hosts shall bless, saying, Blessed be Egypt my people, and Assyria the work of my hands, and Israel mine inheritance." But speaking generally, and in spite of the very developed and widely-extended propaganda, the religion was still too confined in a nationalist strait waistcoat, and the existing state in Judaea, with all its memories and hopes, was still too potent for an effective trans? formation of the nation into the religious community. Yet the religion in its deeper essentials was too universal to be satisfied with</page><page sequence="9">NATION OR RELIGIOUS COMMUNITY? 9 or happy in its national integuments. It kicked against the pricks. Philo, who represented the moderate Hellenistic party, in spite of all his allegorising and philosophy, shows us that the Jew of the Dis? persion was coming gradually to be regarded and to regard him? self less as a member of a particular tribe or race than as a man who held certain peculiar tenets about the Godhead, and practised certain peculiar religious rites. It is interesting to find Philo writing as follows about the relation of the Jews outside Palestine to their adopted country on the one hand and to Jerusalem on the other:? "One country cannot contain all the Jews because of their large number; for which reason they are spread over most parts of Asia and Europe, both on the mainland and in islands. They regard Jerusalem, in which lies the holy temple of the Most High God, as their mother city; but the various countries in which their fathers, grandfathers, and ancestors have dwelt, they regard as their fatherlands, for in them they were born and bred." The passage may be a little coloured for the occasion, but it shows a tendency. And secondly, it is interesting to find that Philo, too, is fain to recognise that the word Jew should have a religious rather than a racial connotation. " Kinship is not merely measured by blood, but by agreement in deeds and by the common pursuit of the same ends." Right down at the end of the second century after Christ we find Dion Cassius saying that the name Jew is applied to all who have adopted the institutions of Judaism, whatever their race. As the test of the newer Hellenism was to be a certain culture, so the test of the Jew was becoming less a matter of genealogy than of religion. By quotations from Philo and Dion Cassius I have passed into the Roman period. One cannot help occasionally indulging in the foolish wish that the course of history had run differently. If the temple could have been quietly destroyed without any embittered struggle with Rome, or if the Jews from the time of Pompey had only con? sisted of the Diaspora, Hellenistic Judaism might have had a tremendous chance. The problem of religion and race might have been solved. For with Rome we do at last get the idea of a universal or imperial citizenship in which all local and national differences are included or swallowed up. Men of many races and many creeds can yet say : Civis Romanus sum. But the Jew had suffered too much from</page><page sequence="10">10 NATION OR RELIGIOUS COMMUNITY ? Rome to be easily reconciled to her. The virulence of national hate had been too intemperately aroused. And in Rome, as in the Hellen? istic kingdoms, the difficulties of religion in public and everyday life still continued. Yet, in spite of mutual hate and mutual contempt, there was, as we all know, a considerable amount of proselytising effort on the one hand, and a constant attractedness on the other. The despised Jew possessed a secret shared by no pagan creed. But Judaism was dispossessed of its charm in the eyes of the Roman world by its own offshoot. Christianity could make a hundred converts where Judaism could make but one. Students of Jewish history should carefully study, by way of illus? tration or of contrast, the position and attitude of early Christianity to Rome and her empire. Whatever our views may be as to the truth of Christian dogma, there can be little doubt that one cardinal fact which determined and ensured the success of Christianity was its frankly international, or, if you will, its non-national character. Paul had spoken the decisive word : he had freed the new creed from national bonds. It was no longer to be a sect of Judaism, but a universal religion. "There is neither Jew nor Greek." "There is no distinction between Jew and Greek." These sentences were fraught with mighty issues. For though the infant Church was, like the Synagogue, anti-Roman and averse to political life, inasmuch as there could be no recognition of the emperors' divinity and no participation in rites which yet formed the inevitable basis and accompaniment of all municipal and national affairs, still Christianity, as it advanced and increased, was bound in one way or another to come to terms with Rome. Or, from another point of view, the State was bound to come to terms with the Church. Too many Romans had become Christian; Christianity had absorbed too much of Rome. When the Empire and Christianity had joined hands, and the one had adopted the other, it is curious to see how soon old ideas reappear in new habiliments. Once more, only in a more subtle and inviolable form, public life becomes entwined and impregnated with religion. The State adopts a religion far more exclusive, intolerant, and inquisi? torial than the pagan syncretisms which it supplanted. The modern conception of one citizenship and many creeds was as far off as ever.</page><page sequence="11">NATION OR RELIGIOUS COMMUNITY 1 11 The Jew was even more out of place, and certainly more disliked and persecuted, in the Christian than in the heathen empire. Religion and race were likely to combine again in a closer coincidence than before. The philosophic student of Jewish history, who as we know must be a student of universal history as well, should trace the origin and growth of the modern nations of Europe. He should especially in? vestigate the changing ideas as to what constitutes a nation?the race element, the place element, and so on. He must also consider the changing function and position of religion in the history of the mediaeval empire and of the European States. He should trace the development and the decay of the imposing conception of the Catholic Church, encompassing all Europe in its wide embrace. He should observe the currents of thought set moving by the earlier heresies, by the Hussite struggles, by the thought of the Renaissance, and, above all, by the Protestant Reformation. He should observe how the idea of the one religion?because the true religion?for all Europe was finally destroyed as a practical force, and how the curious notion of cujus regio ejus religio was a sort of temporary halting-place in the course of political and religious development. He should observe how, from the conception that religion was the first and foremost concern of the State, human thought has passed to the contrary conception :? that religion is no concern of the State whatever. He will discover how this thesis came to be, and how it was, and still is, championed not only by enemies of religion but by many of its dearest friends in the interests, as they believe, of religion itself. But in the course of his investigations he will perceive how with this particular development of thought there runs parallel the growth of the idea that the ad? herents of different creeds can be good citizens of one and the same State. He will notice how some would limit the truth of this concep? tion to the varieties of Christianity, believing that only Christians (of one sort or another) can be fully absorbed by and possessed with the best ethical and spiritual ideas of European civilisation, while others would admit the members of non-Christian religions as well. He would, however, observe that these possible citizens of the West who are non-Christian by religion can hardly be other than Jews. For the line of cleavage is in a larger sense not religious but local or ethno</page><page sequence="12">12 NATION OR RELIGIOUS COMMUNITY ? graphic. The occidental, the European, on the one side; everybody else upon the other. Now it seems valid to assume that Moham? medanism, Buddhism, and all the other religious " isms " of the world will never appeal to the occidental's mind and heart. Therefore the citizens of Europe, America, and Australia must either belong to some form of Christianity, or they must be Jews. But is that second alternative possible 1 Here we come right back to the centre of our own special problem. Our student of Jewish history must proceed to inquire how far the Jews have been affected, and how far Judaism has been modified, by the ideas of which we have just been speaking. He will investi? gate the origin, the growth, and the justification of the phrase: "An Englishman of the Jewish persuasion." He will ask how far the words correspond to a reality, and whether the reality, if it exists, is a passing phenomenon, an evanescent contradiction in terms, or whether it has come to stay. The subject is fascinating and difficult. It is clear that there are no obvious and a priori tests by which you can fix the limits of common citizenship or the necessary differentia for a united nation. There is no a priori reason why in any one State men of different races and creeds should not be ardent citizens living in peace and harmony with each other. The trend of modern thought, in spite of backwaters and counter-currents, is surely in that direction. A Russia which must be purely Slav and of the orthodox Greek Church strikes us as an anachronistic effort which in the long run will in? evitably break down. I admit that in the case of the Jews religion and race are practically co-extensive. A Roman Catholic Czech of Bohemia may perhaps be united, so far as the Czech part of him goes, with his fellow Bohemian Protestant, and qua Catholic he will be willing to marry a German of the same religious denomination. Among the Jews, religion and race play into each other's hands, and the common refusal of intermarriage, however justified as the only means of main? taining the separate life of a tiny minority, preserves and strengthens the alleged isolation and difference. That Jews, so far as their mere ethnographical origin is con? cerned (even granting that they are still a purely Eastern race, which Renan and many other scholars have conclusively shown to be false),</page><page sequence="13">NATION OR RELIGIOUS COMMUNITY ? 13 cannot ever be true Europeans, in all the best and most distinctive elements of European civilisation, is an hypothesis conclusively con? tradicted by fact. The marvel is rather how rapidly in a few decades of liberty the majority of emancipated Jews have become so closely identified in thought and feeling with the countries in which they live. Still the philosophic student of history must inquire whether there still are?and for long must be?Jewish characteristics which run counter to European civilisation. Above all, he must inquire whether, if any such characteristics be held to exist, they are fostered or checked by the Jewish religion in any of its forms. What sort of person is the non-religious Jew likely to be ? A gain or a harm to Europe ? Current terms must be closely examined. What is meant by " oriental" and " occidental" ? Are we going simply to make them synonyms for " good " and " bad " ? That would not only be narrow and absurd, but would show that the terms themselves have no actual signification. Yet that again would be going too far. By the terms " occidental civilisation" or " occidental thought" we desire to ex? press the fact that there is a real difference between West and East, although we by no means assume or believe that all the good is on the one side and all the evil on the other. Is then the Jewish religion in any important or living sense oriental ? Is it oriental in its ideas, its aspirations, or its practices] Do its orientalisms, assuming that they exist, have any working influence upon the lives and thoughts of its adherents ? If they do, should they not be eliminated, if we desire and claim to be European citizens? If they do not, will they drop off one by one as dead branches off a living tree? If all the orientalisms are eliminated, does the religion remain, or has it evaporated in the process ? Does Judaism equal Theism plus orien? talisms? These questions are clearly all-important. Nor are they out of place in this assembly. For in the case of the Jews, the student of their history must be also the student of their religion. If we believe in the gradual triumph of the truth, a great deal depends upon the correct answers to all these numerous questions. Assuming that truth is to triumph, the present movement against the Jews, which has shown itself in different forms in different countries, will only succeed and prosper if some, at any rate, of its cardinal</page><page sequence="14">14 NATION OR RELIGIOUS COMMUNITY? propositions are accurate-?if, for instance, the Jews cannot be, in the right and real sense of the words, Europeans good and true. In that case, too, the nationalist counter-movement among the Jews them? selves, which really depends for its justification upon the propriety of the anti-Jewish agitation, could reasonably claim increased support. Meanwhile, coming back to the vexed question whether the Jews are still a nation professing a particular religion which is professed by no other nation, or whether they are only a religious community, the majority of whose members belong to one particular race and whose rites are still in many respects of a distinctively national kind, two or three observations suggest themselves in conclusion. It can be shown that in bygone ages the religion was helped by its nationalism, and that the people was preserved by its religion. But it can also be shown that the religion was harmed by its national? ist trappings and prepossessions, and that the nation was, as it were, diluted and weakened by its religion. I mentioned before that it is often said that the Priestly Code and the Pharisees transformed a nation into a church. Religion was so important a business that it left no room and no time for political and national considerations. *'A kingdom of priests," except in a higher spiritual sense, is a contradiction in terms. Moreover, the essential universalism of the Jewish religion unfitted it to be a purely national creed. The religion was too good and true to be the property of a single race; it was too big a thing to leave the race which carried it unaffected. It compelled the nation to be other than a nation. By its own inner power it transformed the nation into the religious community. Again, when God was conceived of as the one and impartial Deity of the entire world of things and souls, a purely national religion was no longer possible. In Europe and its colonies such a religion would be an anachronism. The complete transition may take long; before rite follows dogma generation after generation may pass away, but the ultimate result is inevitable. One or the other must happen?trans? formation or disappearance. And if this be so, if the stools of religion and nationality are getting further and further apart, the question arises?on which stool shall we elect to sit ? If the Jews are a nation, and we elect to sit on the national</page><page sequence="15">NATION OR RELIGIOUS COMMUNITY1? 15 stool, then it becomes important for us to realise that such a choice must inevitably affect the development of the Jewish religion. If the Jews were again to form a State in Palestine, it could only be on the most modern lines. The State would have to leave religion severely alone. But, while the pressure of modernity would prevent any strong revival of the religion in strictly nationalist dress, the very existence of the State would be extremely unfavourable to the effec? tive denationalisation of the religion as a living and spiritual force. It is not without significance that the chief continental leaders of the nationalist movement should be men who have little or no interest in the Jewish religion. That is perfectly logical. If, on the other hand, the Jews are not a nation, but only a reli? gious brotherhood, then the question arises whether we must not endeavour to be true occidentals all along the line. Is there not still something to be done, in order that the required transformation may forestall and anticipate sterility and disappearance 1 Is it too much to hope that Judaism may at last take its place among the universal religions of the world 1</page></plain_text>

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