Friday, October 20, 2006

Nice things said about Jews, pt 7

In the pantheistic religions there is only an eternal present. The generations confuse with rather than succeed each other. What can be expected of the future in such societies? Why call upon it, why fear it? Is not God shackled by fate, man by caste? Where is hope amidst these chains which no Messiah is to come and break? It is only among the Hebrews that the genius of futurity truly shines forth, for their God is free. With them, that which has been ceases to be the inflexible rule for that which shall be. [...]

The spirit of equality was rooted in the Law, even when the example of the rest of the Orient opposed its scrupulous translation into practice. Where will you find a more striking contradiction to the whole spirit of antiquity than in the words of the lawgiver, addressed to his people: "And thou shalt remember that thou wast a servant in the land of Egypt, and the Lord thy God brought thee out thence"? From that day on, the Hebrew people considered itself the possession of Jehovah; it could not deliver itself into the hands of any other master.
-- Edgar Quinet, Le GĂ©nie des Religions, 1851

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