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A classic text of enduring significance, Moses Mendelssohn’s Jerusalem (1783) stands as a powerful plea for the separation of church and state and also as the first attempt to present Judaism as a religion eminently compatible with the ideas of the Enlightenment. Allan Arkush’s new translation, drawing upon the great strides made by Mendelssohn research in recent decades, does full justice to contemporary insights into the subject while authentically reflecting a distinguished eighteenth-century text. Alexander Altmann’s learned introduction opens up the complex structure and background of Mendelssohn’s ideas. His detailed commentary, keyed to the text, provides references to literary sources and interpretations of the philosopher’s intent.
Posted September 7, 2006
Moses Mendelssohn's 'Jerusalem' (1783) is one of the most fascinating works to emerge out of the struggle for Jewish emancipation in Germany in the 18th century. Mendelssohn discusses the issue of religious tolerance. He considers reason to be the highest good in any religion. He believes that a Christian who finds a contradiction between Judaism and reason should not try to provoke a clash with Jews, but should work together with them in finding the reason for the contradiction. The Christians and Jews together should show either where the contradiction exists or that the contradiction can be rationally explained and is in fact no contradiction. Because Christianity has its foundations in Judaism, it is counterproductive for the Christian to assail Judaism. The sincere Christian or Jew should make every attempt to maintain his religion as a temple of reason, and this includes viewing other religions with acceptance and goodwill.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.