Commentary Magazine


Article Preview

The Blessedness of the Scholar:
Sources of the Tradition

- Abstract

SCHOLARS, like women, are deviations from the norm Man; and just as the position of women can serve as a criterion for a culture, so can the position of scholars also. Sometimes women and scholars alike are regarded as inferior if necessary; sometimes they are raised to a mystic pedestal, which may conceal an actual contempt; in what we are pleased to look upon as high cultures they are regarded as equal but different, and the difference is respected. Among the unlettered this respect for scholars is sometimes debased to reverence, and when they are on the defensive (as humanists are in an age of scientists and vice versa) scholars tend to claim a kind of reverence as their due. Various peoples at various conjunctures of their history have recognized the superiority of the scholar as an article of faith, and the superiority has even included assurance of blessedness in a future existence. For longer or shorter periods each of the two civilizations whose contacts in the Hellenistic age determined the contours of European civilization bestowed this high privilege upon the scholar, and it is not unlikely that one was influenced by the other in this regard. An examination of possible relationships here may provide an illuminating example of the process of cultural fusion in. general as it operated in the Hellenistic age.



About the Author