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The Nazarene

by Sholem asch
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Asch's novel 1st causing commotion in the Jewish community is an oddity. It's constructed in three parts: Pan Viadomsky, a bilious anti-Semitic history professor in pre-Hitler Warsaw, has just hired an unnamed Jewish assistant to help translate an ancient ms. Soon Viadomsky is confiding in the assistant about his past life as the Roman commander Cornelius, Pontius Pilate's aide. Viadomsky/Cornelius recounts life in Jerusalem at the time of the 2nd Temple & the appearance of a rabbi from Galilee who had everyone talking. The text of the yellowing ms, which Viadomsky insists is written by Judah Ish-Kiriot, constitutes the 2nd part. Then Asch returns to Viadomsky's Jewish assistant, who conjures a past life of his own as a student of a rabbi witness to Jesus' last days.
In rich detail, Asch reconstructs ancient Jerusalem chafing under Roman rule, from the gleaming golden towers of the Temple to the spice dealers & money changers of the old city & the teeming poor in the crooked streets below. But his principal goal was to reclaim Jesus—& his earth-bound rabbi Yeshua ben Joseph is unquestionably grounded in his Jewish faith. He introduces a "lean & hungry-looking" Jesus preaching to the poor fishermen by the harbor, with his dark beard & traditional sidelocks, clad in a tallis with the "ritualistic fringes hanging down almost to the ground." This is a rabbi who followed Hillel's teachings, who was well-liked & respected by his fellow religious, who declared while speaking from a tiny synagogue pulpit (with his mother, Miriam, proudly watching with other women in the balcony) that he'd come "not to destroy the Law & prophets, but to fulfill them."
But the attempt to return Yeshua ben Joseph to the people of Israel did little to assuage his critics. Rumors abounded that Asch was on the verge of converting. In the pages of the Forward & in his antagonistic book Sholem Asch's New Way, Abraham Cahan accused him of distorting Jewish tradition. The longtime Forward columnist Herman Lieberman published The Xianity of Sholem Asch, a scathing book in which he claimed that The Nazarene "may lure away ignorant Jewish children into worshipping foreign gods."

Book ISBN: 9780786703791
Book Pages: 698
Book Publishing Year: 1996
Book Publisher: Carroll & graf
Condition: Almost New

Country of Origin: UK
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