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בס"ד

Literary Notices.

 

We have received, too late however for any extensive notice this month, two small works, both issued lately in New York; they are the first serious attempts at Jewish literature undertaken there, and we hope that they are only the precursors of many more. Whoever has hitherto devoted himself to this branch of literature in America has found but little encouragement to persevere; but we trust that the time is fast approaching when people will begin to inquire into the nature and object of their religion, and desire to become thoroughly acquainted with whatever can throw light on this all-important subject. Though therefore the first productions may not be altogether such as to elicit unqualified approbation, sufficient encouragement should be held out to the authors to induce them to persevere, and to enable them to succeed better at a second effort. The first of the works we have received bears the following title:

The Hebrew Language Demonstrated On Ollendorff’s Method. By the Rev. G. M. Cohen. In two parts: the theoretical part containing 31 pages 12mo., and the practical part 74 pages. Printed by J. M. Jackson.—The author’s object seems to be to induct the scholars by easy gradations into a practical knowledge of the Hebrew language, wherefore he has bestowed but a few pages upon the grammar proper, and more than double the quantity on the exercises. The first portion or the latter consists of reading lessons, in twenty sections; the remainder is taken up with exercises in translation on the well-known plan of Ollendorff, in fifty-four lessons. We would gladly bestow unqualified praise on this effort of Mr. Cohen’s to render the acquisition of the Hebrew easy and agreeable; but we regret that it is full of typographical errors, and occasionally also misconstructions of sentences and faulty spelling are to be met with. Evidently the author’s German ideas are translated into Hebrew, instead of his thinking in the sacred language, without which no correct conception of it can be acquired. It is a great pity that Mr. C. did not obtain the aid of some one thoroughly acquainted with the art of authorship to revise his book before he offered it to the public;—since a few week’s revision by such a person would have added great value to the entire performance. The very title is badly worded; for what does the author mean by demonstrated? We never heard the word used except in reference to ana<<420>>tomy, a demonstrator of science is a necessary appendage to a medical college; but surely he did not mean to dissect the Hebrew for the use of schools? We do not blame him for not being a master of the English, but for attempting to compose a work partly in the same, without a sufficient knowledge to do it well. If we had the space , we could soon prove our words; but the lack of it must be our excuse for not going fully into the subject at present, as otherwise we consider a school-book of the highest importance, and every defect in it ought to be carefully pointed out, that it may be avoided hereafter. In conclusion, we must candidly state, that notwithstanding the faults which we have pointed out, the book has considerable merit, and will, we have no doubt, be a great advantage in schools, in the absence of any other better calculated to subserve this purpose.

 

The second work is called The Challenge Accepted; a Dialogue between a Jew and a Christian, the former answering a challenge thrown out by the latter respecting the accomplishment of the prophecies predictive of the advent of Jesus. By Selig Newman, author of the Emendations of the English Version of the Old Testament. New York, 8vo., pp. 87.—This book consists of a series of dialogues, eighteen in number, wherein the Jew gradually silences his Christian challenger. Mr. Newman proves himself an able Hebrew scholar, and thoroughly familiar with biblical interpretation; and a careful perusal will convey much information to those who are not able to institute a proper inquiry for themselves. Situated as we are in this country, often in small numbers and even single individuals in the midst of a large population differing from us in sentiment, it is absolutely requisite that we should be armed on all points to silence any opponent to Judaism. Though controversy on the part of Jews is nothing new, and though Mr. Newman acknowledges that he has made use of already existing materials: the information which he conveys is not so generally accessible but that we are grateful to him for having opened another avenue through which it may be more widely diffused. But we regret to be compelled to say, as of the first work above, that too many typographical and grammatical errors have been allowed to escape, which we hope will be corrected in a second edition. We hear from competent authority so high a character of Mr. Newman that we should be pleased to see him receive such a support from our brothers, that he may be induced to devote his powerful intellect for the promotion of the welfare of his religion; and we honestly think that the Jews in this country owe it to themselves to see that those who are so well <<421>>able to serve them should not be compelled through their indifference to devote those talents which they would gladly devote to the service of their people to secular pursuits. We hope therefore to see Mr. Newman again cultivating the now almost barren field of Jewish literature in this country.