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Lecture on "The Talmud."


Dr. Emil G. Hirsch of the University of Chicago, lectured last night in the Fogg Lecture Room on "The Talmud." He spoke in part as follows:

Mohammed wisely called the Jewish nation the people of books. From the very first knowledge of the race to the present time the wide gamut of Lennan feeling has been struck by the poetry and philosophy of rabbinical literature. The Talmud was the literary production of Jewish religion preceeding the period taken up by the Old Testament. At that time Jewish religion embraced everything; there was not an actor a desire which was not controlled by religious feeling. Everything in the Jews' daily life had a been spiritual significance. Examples of their domestic life, their homely customs and habits, were all plainly portrayed within the pages of the Talmud, and to this book we owe our present knowledge of the Jews' early life and manners.

The Talmud is written in classical Hebrew, which is made up of four different Jewish dialects and is smattered, here and there, with borrowed words of Latin, Greek and even Persian origin. Owing to this complex structure, an intelligent study of the book is extremely difficult. Yet the time and energy spent upon the translation of the Talmud is well worth while From it, information is obtained in regard to astronomy and botany, and we see the extensive knowledge which the Jewish rabbis and philosophers must have had in regard to our more modern sciences. But by far the greatest result of this research has been the light it has thrown upon the writings of the New Testament. It is only by use of the Talmud that we are capable of understanding the New Testament, or can intelligently appreciate the later Biblical writings.

In construction, the book is divided into six distinct parts, relating to agricultural pursuits of the people, holidays, civil laws, marriages, purity, and sacrifices in temples. This organization is intelligently arranged and is written with a peculiar terseness, which is characteristic of Hebrew literature at that time. It is this same intense religious spirit which inspired the Talmud that preserved the purity and character of the Jewish people in contrast to the other nations at that time.

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