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Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Book review: The Talmud Tested, and Found Wanting

Book Review 
Alexander McCaul’s “The Talmud Tested”
Reviewed by Mickey Henry

The Talmud Tested, and Found Wanting

“Thus saith the LORD, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls. But they said, We will not walk therein.”  Jeremiah 6:16 (KJV)

Alexander McCaul’s The Talmud Tested, a book originally published in the 19th century under the title The Old Paths, Or The Talmud Tested By Scripture; Being A Comparison Of The Principles And Doctrines Of Modern Judaism With The Religion Of Moses And The Prophets, has recently been republished by Independent History & Research with an all new introduction by Christendom’s foremost living scholar of rabbinic Judaism, Michael Hoffman.  This consistently Christian critique of Judaism is a very important work of scholarship in a field that, with the exception of Hoffman and a handful of others, has been almost entirely neglected by the modern Church.

Style and Divisibility of the Book

The chapters comprising the contents of The Talmud Tested were originally written by McCaul as a series of 60 individual weekly installments.  In each installment, a particular topic is selected and dissected in a formulaic manner:
1. The topic is introduced.
2. The position of modern Judaism is detailed from authoritative Judaic sources.
3. The position of the Old Testament is stated.
4. The position of Judaism is shown to be in violation of the Old Testament.
5. The position of the New Testament is stated, and shown to be in agreement with the Old.
6. The installment is summarized, and the superiority of Christianity as the proper interpreter of the Old Testament is further established.

The book is topical or episodic in nature, and the reader may choose to interact with as little or as much of the book as he chooses, generally without regard to order.  At nearly 700 pages, this tome is outwardly intimidating to the slow reader or the novice, but in actuality is effortlessly divisible without loss of comprehension.  My suggestion:  read Hoffman’s introduction and the first two chapters, then read as few or as many of the topics as interest you, and finish with the summary and restatement of the core argument in the final chapter.

Stylistically, even though this book was written at a time known for its stilted language, the weekly installments making up its chapters were originally employed as missionary tracts for general consumption. Its scholarship is considerable, but McCaul is nevertheless eminently readable.

Topics Covered by the Book

The following is a list of topics covered in The Talmud Tested (a few of the topics are discussed in multiple installments):
1. Rabbinism not a Safe Way of Salvation
2. Implicit Faith not due to the Rabbis
3. Rabbinic Injustice to Women, Slaves, and Gentiles
4. Rabbinic Intolerance towards other Nations
5. Talmudic Intolerance contrasted with the Charity of the Bible
6. Compulsory Conversion of the Gentiles
7. The Feast of Purim
8. Rabbinic Contempt for the Sons of Noah
9. Christians cannot be reckoned amongst the “Pious of the Nations of the World”
10. Rabbinic Washing of Hands
11. Rabbinic Artifices respecting Leaven at the Passover
12. The Passover a Type of Future Deliverance
13. Severity of the Rabbinic Ordinances
14. Severity and Artifice
15. Sabbath Mixture
16. Intolerance of Rabbinic Prayers
17. Rabbinic Legends
18. Rabbinic Magic
19. Astrology
20. Amulets
21. Charms
22. Sabbatic Laws
23. Fast for the Destruction of the Temple
24. Rabbinic Excommunication
25. New Year’s Day
26. Justification
27. Day of Atonement
28. Feast of Tabernacles
29. Prayers for the Dead
30. Almsgiving
31. Priests and Levites
32. Rabbinic Ideas of the Deity
33. Title of Rabbi
34. Sanhedrin
35. Contempt for the Female Character
36. Polygamy
37. Divorce
38. Rabbinic Laws concerning Meat
39. The Birth of Messiah
40. Slaughtering of Meat
41. Laws concerning Meat with Milk
42. Rabbinism oppressive to the Poor
43. Gentile Wine
44. Mourning for the Dead
45. Dispensation from an Oath
46. Meritoriousness of Circumcision
47. Cruelty to the Unlearned

A “Safe” Book on Judaism

McCaul wrote with a missionary intent:  to draw the Judaic peoples away from the yoke of rabbinic oppression and works righteousness to salvation in Jesus Christ.  The Talmud Tested is frank and unrelenting in its assessment of the Talmud and the other authoritative texts of Judaism, but McCaul treats the Judaic peoples themselves with charity.   There is nothing in this book similar to Old Right “Jew hate”, and that makes it an ideal candidate for a church library, a homeschool course on comparative religions, or for those who, due to the almost universal sentimentalism of our age, find such blistering polemics unattractive.

It’s refreshing to read a book critical of Judaism that does not assent to its central lie:  the fiction that modern Judaism is the religion of the Old Testament.  For Judaism is not the religion of the Old Testament, but is the evolution of the Pharisaic system as authoritatively stipulated by the Talmud.  When reading authors like Douglas Reed, it is difficult to take them seriously as astute critics of Judaism when they openly subscribe to its biggest lie.  McCaul wrote with utter fidelity to the New Testament as well as the Old; a claim that may only rightly be made of a handful of others, such as Hoffman, Elizabeth Dilling, and Johann Andreas Eisenmenger.

Christianity Better Comprehended

The study of comparative religion has the rewarding effect of drawing out the distinctions in one’s own beliefs.  I found McCaul to be an able and clear-minded theologian, and would recommend reading The Talmud Tested on the basis of Christian studies alone.  But because modern Judaism is the evolution of Phariseeism, studying Judaism in particular has an illuminating effect on many New Testament passages.  The difficult “you’ve heard it said” passages of the Sermon on Mount (Matthew 5) are immediately clarified when you realized that Christ was attacking specific Pharisaic perversions of God’s Law that denied the role of the Law in the life of the mind and turned sanctification into nothing but a rigid, entirely externalized observation of a set of rules.  I found especially instructive McCaul’s explanation of the parable of the Good Samaritan as a pointed condemnation of the Pharisaic oral law teaching that a Jew may do nothing to save the life of a Gentile in distress.

Why Purchase this Edition?

A moment’s search will quickly reveal that other facsimiles of this book are available, so why purchase this edition?  The reasons are threefold:

1. Independent History & Research, Hoffman’s imprint, was painstaking in the preparation of this reprint.  A fine original was used as the source, and professionally scanned.  There are no missing or misaligned pages, no underlining or margin notes, no stains or unintelligible words.  The print is crisp and easily readable.

2. Hoffman wrote an excellent 20-page introduction to this edition.  I found the context he provided very helpful.  Further, an extensive extract from a historical work detailing McCaul’s labors with the London Society for Promoting Christianity Amongst the Jews provides much useful background.

3. Christendom has all but forgotten its scholars.  Purchasing this edition supports the continued work of Michael Hoffman.

The Bottom Line:

Highly recommended.  Buy it from Independent History & Research, read it, and purchase additional copies to pass on to your church elders and other serious Christians.

The Talmud Tested may be purchased directly from Independent History and Research here:



Anonymous said...

First, sorry about the "misplaced" comment - this one concerns your book "Judaism's strange gods". I'm enjoying it for the most part as the material is quite familiar to me. I am however curious as to your opinion regarding the Massorah as penned ~920 b.c. That is - was the Massorah faithfully penned by talmudists? Or have you seen evidence that the Ben Asher family were Karaites vs. Talmudists? I found only a page or two re: the Karaites in your book but perhaps I missed further information contained therein. Thanks.

Michael Hoffman said...

To anathoth:

Thank you for your comment.

I have no information on this subject.

Spiritsplice said...

Chistanity is still jewish lies and teaches us to be weak universalists. It is not a European religion. Christianity deserves much of the blame for our current situation and lack of survival instincts.