Jewish Life And Religion:
The Talmud’s Many Demons
I find it encouraging that Adam Kirsch in the above linked article is examining the Talmud in a rational manner. He almost abandons the Jewish creationist position in favor of an evolutionary one. He says:
You can never pronounce on “what Judaism says” without specifying what Judaism you are talking about: post-Enlightenment, post-Reform Judaism may say one thing, where the Judaism of the Talmud says something entirely different.
In his way then, Adam admits that Judaism howsoever reluctantly, is responding, or has responded, to outside challenges to its belief system, in this case evolution. This is encouraging for as Judaism goes so goes Fundamentalist Christianity.
Adam still has the problem in believing in the supremacy of Judaism as a belief system. He takes the unwarranted, but nearly universal, opinion that monotheism is inherently superior to polytheism and hence Greek or Aryan thought. As a Scientist, of course, I view both as relics of the Ages in which they developed while as belief systems I prefer Greek polytheism to Jewish monotheism.
The Talmud, of which there are two versions, the Mesopotamian and the Jerusalem, developed after the Babylonian Captivity, c. -586. I might refer Adam to the Greek pre-Socratics who developed their interpretation of Nature from the Eighth to the Fourth century BC well ahead of the ‘Sages’ of the Talmud. Already the kernel of evolution is apparent in the writing of Parmenides while the Atomic theory of Leucippus and Democritus of the Fourth century BC posits atoms in the air that would be a scientific counterpart to Jewish demons. Much later the microscope would be developed that would show that indeed, the world was full of invisible beings although of a biologic and not ephemeral nature.
I would also refer Adam to the Iliad of Homer but it is so poorly understood that he might never understand it or it would probably take him decades if began right now. Nevertheless Homer’s approach is scientific that resulted in the pre-Socratic but not magical the fount of superstition that is the Talmud. The embrace of Jewish magic by the Aryans was an intellectual disaster.
Thus, Adam should place Jewish fantasias in the context of the general thought of the times that includes Persian influences, of which the Talmud abounds, Gnostic ideas from which the Talmud vastly profits and other esoteric beliefs that might include influences for Indian sources as Asoka sent his missionaries into the Middle EAst sometime after -350.
It is astonishing that given all these traditions that posit an earth of at least hundeds of thousands of years in age that the Jews would contrarily posit a definite age of +-5700 years. This absurdity ruined the Aryan mind so completely that today Jewish, Moslem and Fundamentalist Christian fantasists refuse to accept the obvious that evolution is change we can believe in.
Bravo, Adam, bravo! Keep up the good work. Dig deeper.