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Kingdom of God will come Category: Judaism Jerusalem above chief joy

Judaism. National Character of the Jews
In the works of Vladimir Solovyov

The first to conceive of God as a person

National character of the Jews consisted precisely of the predominance of the personal, subjective factor.

Every manifestation of the divine beginning, every theophany, is determined by the character of the milieu receiving it; in history it was conditioned first of all by the peculiarity of a national character, by the particular traits of the nation in which the given manifestation of Divinity took place. If the divine beginning was manifested to the Hindu spirit as the nirvana, to the Greeks as the idea and the ideal cosmos, then it was to appear among the Jews as a personality, as a living subject, as an 'I': because their national character consisted precisely of the predominance of the personal, subjective factor. This character is manifested in the whole historical life of the Jews, in all that this nation has created or is creating. Thus, we see that in poetry the Jews have created something specifically their own only in that form which represents the subjective, personal element: they created the masterly lyrics of the Psalms, the lyric idyl of the Song of Songs, but they could not create real epic or drama, such as we find in Hindu and Greek literature—not only during their independent existence but even later on—we can point to Heine, the genius lyrical writer among the Jews, but we cannot find among them a single outstanding dramatist, precisely because drama is an objective form of poesy. It is also remarkable that the Jews distinguish themselves in music, i.e., in that art which expresses preeminently the inner subjective motions of the soul, and have not produced anything worth while in the plastic arts. In the domain of philosophy, during their flourishing epoch, the Jews never went further than moral didactics, i.e., that field in which the practical interests of the moral personality predominate over the objective contemplation and the reasoning of the mind. Correspondingly in religion the Jews were the first fully to conceive of God as a person, as a subject, as the living 'I'; they could not content themselves with the representation of Divinity as an impersonal force and as the impersonal idea.

The character which asserts in everything the subjective element, can be the bearer of the greatest evil as well as the greatest good. For, if the force of the personality in asserting itself in its own separateness is evil and the root of evil, then the same force, having subjected itself to the highest beginning—the same flame [but] permeated with the divine light—appears as the force of the world-wide, all-embracing love. Without the force of the self-asserting personality, without the force of egoism, the good itself in man appears impotent and cold, appears only as an abstract idea. Every actively moral character presupposes the subjugated force of evil, i.e., of egoism. As in the physical world a certain force, in order to manifest itself actually, [in order] to, become energy, must consume or transform (into its own form) a corresponding amount of energy which previously existed [in another form] (thus light is a transformation of heat; heat, of mechanical motion; and so forth); in the same manner, in the moral world, the potentiality of the good in the soul of a man who was subjected to natural order, can be manifested actively only with the consummation or transformation of the energy of the soul already in its possession—which in the natural man is the energy of the self-asserting will, the energy of evil, which must be reduced to the potential state in order that the new force of the good might be actualized from [its heretofore] potential [state] into action. The essence of the good is given by an act of God, but the energy of its manifestation in man can be had only with the transformation of the conquered force of the self-asserting personal will, after it was subjugated into the potential state. Thus, in a holy man the actual good presupposes potential evil; he is great in his holiness because he might be great in evil as well; he overcame the force of evil, has subjected it to the highest beginning, and it has become the basis and carrier of the good. That is why the Jewish people, demonstrating the worst aspects of human nature, 'a stiff-necked people' and with a stony heart, this same people is the people of the saints and the prophets of God, the nation in which was to be born the new spiritual man.

The whole Old Testament represents the history of personal relations of God (Logos or Jehovah) manifesting Himself to the representatives of the Jewish nation—its patriarchs, leaders, and prophets. In these personal relations, which form the religion of the Old Testament, a succession of three grades is noticed. The first mediators between the Jewish nation and its God, the ancient patriarchs Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, believe in the personal God and live by that faith. The representatives of Judaism that follow them—Moses, who saw God, David, 'the man after the heart of Jehovah', and Solomon, the builder of the great temple—receive clear revelations of the personal God and try to carry [the message, the practical bearings of] these revelations into social life and the religious cult of their people; in their person Jehovah concludes a certain external covenant or pact with Israel, as person with person. The last series of Jewish representatives, the prophets, cognizant of the insufficiency of that external union, forefeel and announce another, inner unification of Divinity with the human soul in the person of the Messiah, the son of David and the son of God; and they forefeel and herald this Messiah not only as a supreme representative of Judaism, but as the 'ensign of the nations', as the representative and the head of all regenerated humanity.

If, thus, the milieu for the incarnation of the divine beginning was determined by the national character of the Jews, its time was contingent upon the general course of history. When the ideal revelation of the Word in the Hellenic-Roman world was exhausted and proved to be insufficient for the living soul; when man, regardless of the enormous, never seen before, riches of culture, found himself alone in a poor and empty world; when everywhere appeared doubt of the truth and an aversion to life, and the best men passed from despair to suicide; when, on the other hand—precisely because the reigning ideal principles proved to be radically insolvent—then there appeared an awareness of the fact that ideas in general are insufficient for the struggle against the evil of life; then there appeared a demand that the truth should become incarnated in a living personal force. And when the external truth, that of the people, of the state, became in fact centred in one living person—the person of a deified man, the Roman Caesar—then appeared also the divine truth in the living person of the incarnate God, Jesus Christ.

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