David Aberbach's book explores major transformations in Jewish life and thought from the Bible to the present and asks fundamental questions: How did ancient Israel evolve from being a people oscillating to and from belief in one God to exclusive monotheism? Which circumstances led to the transition among the Jews in the Roman empire from being a militant, state-based people to being a pacifist, scripture-based people? which social forces attracted the Jews under medieval Islamic rule to secular life and identity? How did emancipation after the American and French revolutions lead to the end of rabbinic dominance? How did nationalism and revived Hebrew language and literatrue transform modern Jewish life and culture? David Aberbach's book is unique in its scope, eclectic approach, and perception of Judaism as a constantly evolving civilization, always in relation to other, dominant cultures.

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