Judaism and the Hellenistic Experience:
A Classical Model for Living in Two Cultures
If, in looking back on the long Jewish past, the Hellenistic era appears to be more directly relevant to contemporary Jewish problems than any other period, it is because it was during that period that Jews first had to come to terms with the challenge of Europeanism. The responses they formulated at that time are classic: that is, they can serve as a gauge by which to assess later responses to the same challenge, and perhaps to correct deviations which have proven too extreme. This function of the classic—as a standard by which to understand and measure the present, and as a means of self-criticism—is universally acknowledged in the realms of philosophy and morality, literature and politics; the classical paradigm for the Jewish response to the world of Western humanism may be equally serviceable.
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