Orthodox Judaism

This is My God, by Herman Wouk (Doubleday, 1959, 356 pp., $3.95), is reviewed by Edward John Carnell, Professor of Apologetics, Fuller Theological Seminary.

With the publication of this book, Herman Wouk may justly be called the C. S. Lewis of orthodox Judaism. He is a literary craftsman of the first water. Just feel his power as he describes the delights of Palestine: “Best of all I like the city of Haifa, white and busy on green slopes around a saucer of purple Mediterranean; then Jerusalem, the solemn magic of which I cannot write down, but its old hills in the dawn will draw me back year after year; and then the mysterious peaks of Galilee, with vistas down to the far blue sea of Kinneret which give you the illusion that Israel must be the world’s largest land instead of one of the smallest” (p. 268).

Many people picture orthodox Jews as an eccentric society, bearded, with their backs to progress and their faces to the Wailing Wall. Wouk pictures them as a religious aristocracy commissioned by God to bear the torch of piety and learning until the very end of time. The darkest hours of Jewish persecution are turned into the brightness of meridian sunlight. The law of Moses “prophesied that the glories would be temporary, that the people in their prosperity would lose their hold on the law and on their land, and would scatter into exile; and it ordained that the nation should go on observing the festivals wherever they dwelt, to all time. And so we do. Our people have lived for thousands of years in the faith that in God’s good time he will restore the nation to its soil, and that the festivals will take on, in the latter days, their ancient force and beauty” (p. 80). It is striking that Protestant dispensationalism ...

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