The Jewish Civilization


Feliks Koneczny

(Translated from Polish by Maciej Giertych)






Translator’s note  

Introductory remark 




Volume 1. Four religions 


I. On biblical sources 


II. Between monolatry and monotheism


III. The Sacrality of civilizations 


IV. Social structure 


V. The Galut in antiquity 


VI. The Talmud and the Karaism 


VII. Shulchan Aruch 


VIII. The Cabbala 


IX. Pilpul and Hasidism 


X. Facing Islam and Christianity




Volume 2. Acquisitions of the Galut among Christians 


XI. Race 


XII. Jewish languages 


XIII. Survival in the Diaspora 


XIV. The consequences of the Election 


XV. Legalism 


XVI. Lack of Historicism 


XVII. Around the synagogue 


XVIII. Inevitable misunderstandings 


XIX. Rossica 


XX. The veneration of Israel 


XXI. Neo-Judaism 


XXII. Neo-rabbinism 


XXIII. Dark synthesis 




Volume 3. Struggle for existence 


XXIV. Struggle for intellectual existence 


XXV. Struggle for material existence till the XIIIth c. 


XXVI. Jewish economics 


XXVII. Struggle for material existence since the XIVth c.  


XXVIII. State and statehood 


XXIX. Qahal statehood 


XXX. The Frankist sect 


XXXI. The first ‘emancipated’ Jews 


XXXII. A note about ritual murder 


XXXIII. Emancipation and integration 


XXXIV. Judeo-Poland 


XXXV. Zionism 


XXXVI. Judaization 


XXXVII. Judaized Hitlerism 


XXXVIII. A de-Judaized Jew 


XXXIX. How to solve the Jewish question 






Glossary of Special Terms


Index of names and place names





Introductory remark


The ‘Jewish question’ among nations is neither racial, nor confessional – it is a question of a wholly distinct civilization, i.e. a distinct mode of communal life. Jews have their own civilization and it is in this that the extensiveness of the issue consists.

The current investigation considers these issues only from a scientific point of view, specifically from the observation point of the science of civilizations. I am engaged in this field of research since 1917. I have developed my own methodology, the utility of which I have often subjected to varioustests. For a long time I delayed the publication of my fundamental work:
On the Plurality of Civilisations, since I first wanted to test its results in detailed research on individual civilizations. In 1935 I already had sketches of descriptions of the Jewish and Byzantine civilizations and only after convincing myself, on their basis, that my methodology is functional I gave final form to my work On the Plurality of Civilisations (Koneczny 1935)1 which had to be published first as the fundamental work. (After that I published The Development of Morality (Koneczny 1938)). Meanwhile over many years The Byzantine Civilization and the current The Jewish Civilizations were being supplemented.

Thus I am thus releasing the fruit of almost 30 years of investigations. When the time came for editing, when a book was finally to be produced from the collected notes, I held on to the principle that only that should be published, which pertains to the issue of civilization and only that which is indispensable to demonstrate certain features or to prove certain claims. I have 1 [This was published in English in London in 1962 by ‘Polonica Publications’.] tried to make the work as short as possible. A book could be made out of every chapter on this topic! If necessary let my followers do this; it was my duty to present an overview of the whole subject, and this cannot be too long. Also this is not a study, or a textbook of the history of Jews, or an encyclopaedic compendium of Jewish issues.

Whoever will start reading hoping to find a little about everything that pertains to the Jews will be disappointed. He will find many gaps, because the book does not deal with the issue of being Jewish in general, but only with the Jewish civilization.

Obviously this work is far from perfect; in fact it is the first effort to treat an extensive and important issue on the basis of a new methodology. I will in fact say honestly that the book is far from the condition that would be fully satisfying to the author himself. I shall act following the advice of Hugo Kollataj [1750-1812] whose words: ‘Let us start not worrying who will correct us later’ act as a rallying call.

Feliks Koneczny,
Kraków, November 1945.


Vol. I.

I. On biblical sources

When investigating the Jewish civilization we must start with the Bible, treating it not as a source of theological knowledge but for secular purposes and with secular methods.

However, is it possible to approach this without first acknowledging the state of Biblical theological criticism that treats the Bible treated as Sacred Scripture? Not being competent in this field I shall restrict myself to quoting specialists, neither adding nor subtracting anything myself. I shall only present the current state of knowledge on the subject.

Let us start with the issue of the origin of the Bible. On this issue one can only say that the books known as THE LAW (The Torah) have been compiled in the Jerusalem Temple, but the actual composition of the books was determined after the Babylonian captivity at the time of Ezra and Nehemiah; this composition was later reconstituted at the time of Judas Maccabaeus due to the destruction of the Jewish religious organisation by Antioch IV of Syria [215-163 B.C.]. This work of reconstituting was done in 164 B.C.

Greek translations have begun a whole century earlier, around the year 250 B.C. and the so called Septuaginta was finished before 132 B.C. ‘The Hebrew Bible was incorporated in toto into the Greek and later the Christian Bible. With time the Jews refused to recognize several books as canonical: Syrah that is Ecclesiasticus, Judith, Tobit, the latter Maccabees and Wisdom (these are the so called deuterocanonical books).

The Greek Bible included these books and also some additions to certain books which are indisputably canonical (Esther, Daniel) (Michalski 1928, 39-44).’ Thus the Jews recognize only 39 books of the Old Testament, whereas Catholics recognize 46, and treating the lamentations of Jeremiah and the book of Baruch together with Jeremiah, as some specialists do, the number will be 44 (Kruszynski 1915, 35,36).

In the first Christian centuries these inconsistencies were used against the Church, particularly in the 4th c. The Fathers of the Church and Church writers restricted therefore themselves to quoting only the books recognized by both sides.

In principle however the Church recognized all the books of the Greek Bible (Michalski 1928, 45, 46).

The first Latin translation (the so called
Itala) was substantially revised in A.D. 389 and the following years by St. Jerome, and in this way the so called Vulgata was born. It contains the books which are missing in the Hebrew Bible and St. Jerome himself added some fragments of the books of Esther, Daniel, Judith and Tobias from Old Latin and Aramaic translations. These translations were older than the established Hebrew text.

It is only in the 6th c. that vowels begin to appear in the Hebrew script. These were used in words so as to stabilize the reading and the pronunciation of texts. ‘Whole generations of Jewish learned, theologians and philologists, of Palestine in particular, referred to jointly as the Masoretes ... have developed a complicated system of vowel marks and accents with which they annotated the Bible. This great work was done in the 6-8th c. so that all the extant manuscripts of the Hebrew Bible have these masoretic, i.e. traditional marks. The Masora is an invaluable document, facilitating the reading, understandingand translating of the Bible.’ Let us add that the oldest extant Hebrew manuscripts do not reach beyond the 9th c. after Christ (Kruszynski 1915, 199, 200; Michalski 1928, 55, 57).

The Masora is after all a product of a later period, whereas the Vulgate contains texts in an older form, critically more correct. Serious 17th c. studies have later shown that the Greek and Latin texts are much older than the Hebrew masoretic ones. Thus basing oneself on the Vulgate represents a simple postulate of the scientific critique of texts (Michalski 1928, 65).

The critique has shown also that the substantial differences between the masoretic text and the Septuagint can only be explained by the fact that the Hebrew text represents a completely different editing of the Bible than was the case with the text that was used for the old translation into Greek (Michalski 1928, 65).

Later there were two reforms in the external arrangement of the Bible: the division into chapters made in mid 13th c. and into verses made as late as 1548 (Kruszynski 1915, 39, 40).

However, the Vulgate also requires a critical scientific verification. Some work was already done on this subject in the Middle Ages. The Paris Sorbonne in particular contributed much in this respect and its correctorium parisiense became the basis for all publications of the Vulgate right up to the so called Vulgata Clementina, a text published on the order of Pope Clement VIII in 1592 (Michalski 1928, 69, 71).

New critical editorial work began as late as the 19th c. Pius XI had finally established a permanent Benedictine commission which, starting in 1907, collects and studies all available manuscripts. A multitude of scientists classify the great collection of text diversities in the Vulgate so as to produce on this basis a scientifically verified text that would be as far as possible identical with the text that was used by the Church in the 6th c. and it was the postulate of the Council of Trent that this version is to be used, when it declared the Vulgate to be the authentic text of the Bible. The Benedictine studies have advanced sufficiently that ‘soon, no doubt, the Octateuch announced by the Benedictine commission will appear, containing the five books of Moses and those of Joshua, Judges and Ruth based entirely on manuscripts.’ (Archutowski 1927, 83).

What great difficulties mount before a biblical scholar who wishes to give justice to the demands of critiques, at least the philological conditions, can be learned from a few examples which at the same time show the superiority of the Septuagint and the Vulgate derived from it. The Hebrew text of the book of Joshua has not survived to our times in full, and it has been seriously modified, both before and after the Greek translation; thus the Septuagint represents here an earlier version (Archutowski 1927, 83: Michalski 1928, 70, 72).

‘The Hebrew text of the book of Job is difficult to understand in many places. This comes from an inaccurate preservation of the text, as well as from the mode of writing and the language which includes many words that are rarely used,’ while the Septuagint ‘substantially differs from the masoretic text, and in many places appears to be a paraphrase and not a translation’ and ‘the Greek text is about 1/5 shorter than the Hebrew text,’ however ‘the Vulgate is a good translation from the Hebrew.’

It is even more difficult with the psalms: ‘The Hebrew text of the Psalter has substantially suffered both because of frequent copying and use, as well as a consequence of deliberate modifications, which have been introduced by collectors wishing to adapt the text of older psalms to the conditions of a latter time.’ In fact many psalms originate from the time of the Babylonian captivity and after it, and in many it is not possible to recognize the time of their origin. The arrangement of the Psalter is based on several smaller compilations (Archutowski 1927, 208, 218, 221, 224).

How great are the difficulties with the book of Daniel of which we know three texts! ‘Each is different and there is no uniformity of language. The beginning and end are in Hebrew, the middle in Aramaic, and the deuterocanonical fragments are in Greek.’ Numerous complications have to be sorted out by the critique of the text of the book of Tobit. The original text was lost long ago. Most likely it was in Hebrew because it has numerous Hebraisms, however it is not impossible that the original was in Aramaic. St. Jerome translated from Aramaic.

The Hebrew and Aramaic texts available today are of a latter date and undoubtedly are only translations. Of the two Books of Maccabees, originating from two different authors, one was possibly written in Hebrew or in Aramaic while the other in Greek and this one is a synopsis of a five volume work written in Greek by Jason of Cyrene, a Hellenized Jew. Both are deuterocanonical and ‘are present only in the Alexandrian canon.’

The Council of Trent has accepted them while the Protestants have ‘totally rejected them.’ The same happened to the Book of Tobit. On the other hand Judith, the oldest text of which is Aramaic, is included among the apocrypha by both Jews and the Protestants. Out of the many difficulties with the Book of Esther, the Greek version is helpful and not the Hebrew one which obtained its present form as late as the 1st c. after Christ (Archutowski 1927, 158, 161, 179, 180, 183-185, 188, 341).

In proclaiming the authenticity of the Vulgate the Council of Trent accepted a text based on older editions whereas the Protestants have acknowledged the authenticity only of the masoretic text claiming at the same time that this text ‘has its present form without changes over the centuries starting with the times of Ezra.’ In the year 1675 at a conference called the Consensus helveticus the masoretic text was officially recognized as ‘absolutely authentic and complete’ (Kruszynski 1915, 200).

We read there: ‘We preserve the Old Testament, both as regards consonants and vowels, as well as vowel marks and accents, as also the mere possibility of using these accents, as pertaining both to the content and words, as being inspired by God’ (Archutowski 1930, 14). Meanwhile studies in this very XVII c. have shown, increasingly convincingly, that the masoretic text is of latter origin, particularly since the Oratorian Jean Morin proved that the Hebrew text is flawed (Kruszynski 1915, 201). Protestantism was blamed for ‘not being able to separate the competences of faith and reason when studying the Bible.’

Strange theories appeared about a sort of hypostatic union between the Bible and the Holy Spirit, about the action of the Bible in a sacramental mode and still others even more bizarre (Archutowski 1930, 12-14). # They became so stubborn with respect to the deuterocanonical books that, even though the original texts of some books such as that of Ecclesiasticus have recently been discovered, the Protestant biblical scholars is spite of this do not recognize this book (Archutowski 1927, 4).

Such a substantial difference in defining the books of the Old Testament must have increasingly deepened the religious rift, because Protestantism led to a re-Judaisation, while the direction of Catholic thought led to a critique of Judaism.

More ancient Jews (The Cabbala, Gematria) as well as the first Protestant reformers (Lutherans, Calvinists), having established the rule that the Holy Bible is the only source of divine Revelation and the only norm of faith, they exaggerated in their teaching about the origin and nature of inspiration.

They claimed that God suggested and virtually dictated individual sentences and words to the authors of the holy books. The inspired author has added nothing from himself. In the hand of God he was merely a passive and unknowing tool, which performed only what God wished to say or dictate through him. Some even extended the divine influence on all the accents and marks as we read in the above mentioned 1675 Consensus Helveticus2. Thus the role of the human author was 2 [The author uses here the term Confessio Helvetica, (which was adoped in the XVIth c.), however since he refers to a term already mentioned and the date of 1675 obviously Consensus Helveticus is intended here.] restricted to that of a copyist or writer putting down word for word as if following a dictation. Such views are an exaggeration; they have to be rejected as unjustified. This is the so called formal Bibliolatry.  It is improper to claim that God thought (dictated) and man was only a mechanical writer. Both God and man thought and they jointly wrote, thus man must have also expressed his own thoughts during writing (Archutowski 1930, 43, 44).

Not taking this into consideration ‘opinions about the Bible and its inspiration have in the past been frequently exaggerated. It has been claimed that the Bible is the Word of God in a strict sense, a Revelation, that everything therein, without exception, is the teaching of God dictated to the biblical writers. It was claimed that God is the only and proper author of the Holy Scripture, while people, the human authors, were only blind and passive tools in the hand of God’ (Archutowski 1930, 42).

The Church decidedly rejects this and for many reasons does not accept the so called verbal inspiration (Kruszynski 1915, 67). ‘Words dictated by the Holy Spirit are assigned by the Council of Trent only to the apostolic traditions that were received through the dictating of the Holy Spirit. Thus it is not possible to narrow down the words in the Bible claiming that they come from God in such a manner, that every individual word was dictated by Him’ (Michalski 1928, 8). The Council of Trent declared that the books of the Holy Bible, that is also the books of the Old Testament, ‘originated under the dictation of the Holy Spirit.’ The Vulgate therefore is ‘authentic though not inspired’ (Michalski 1928, 13). Explaining the thesis of the [I] Vatican Council which claims that: Spiriti sancto inspirante conscripti (libri), Deum habent auctorem3 – an excellent biblical scholar points out that one can be ‘an author of a book and not 3 [(Books) written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit have God as their author] necessarily its inspirer ...The Holy Books are not inspired because God is their author but rather we claim that God is their author because He is their inspirer’ (Archutowski 1930, 51).

Similarly one has to understand that inspiration is something different than revelation. ‘Not all the truths present in Holy Scripts were in a strict sense revealed to the authors even though all were inspired’ (Kruszynski 1915, 45). According to the teaching of the Church ‘God’s influence did not exclude in the authors their human motives, purely natural ones.’

They themselves often indicate that ‘what they are writing they came to know by personal experience, from testimonies or written documents, and therefore not from revelation’ (Michalski 1928, 16, 17). Thus the Holy Books contain clear distinguishing features of individual human authors, their intellectual culture, personalities etc. (Archutowski 1930, 11). Let us for example take the Prophets. ‘While they taught the Prophets maintained their individual characteristics. ... A Prophet, even though inspired by God acted, thought and spoke as other people did. He was aware that he obtained a revelation from God, but proclaiming it, he did so according to his own way of thinking, expressing it as if it were his own personal conviction.

In their speeches, depending on their own temperaments, culture and environment, the Prophets expressed themselves according to the prevailing opinions of the time, they spoke and presented examples borrowed from the conditions of the time. In other words they were children of their times and environment’ (Archutowski 1927, 280).

How then could one follow the Protestant interpretation of the issue and accept literal inspiration? Furthermore it must be stressed that the ‘absolute authenticity of the Holy Scriptures is understood to apply to the original text, unflawed copies and faithful translations’ (Archutowski 1930, 83). ‘The Church understands and knows that time has placed its imprint on the text and tone of the Bible, that none of the present forms contains a text fully identical with that produced by the authors’ (Michalski 1928, 52).

Thus, with respect to the Bible, not only is a whole range of methods of source critique known to philologists and historians permissible, but the Church herself promotes it and chairs of theology practise it systematically.

Tedious work indeed! For example in the Book of Jeremiah (Ch. XXXVI) we have a description of the literary activity of this prophet, namely that after 20 years of teaching he dictated to Baruch his old speeches, and when this book was incinerated by Joakim, Baruch wrote another one under dictation from Jeremiah in which the ‘number of speeches was substantially greater than there were in the original version (27-32)#’ (Archutowski 1927, 283, 284). Which then is the original text?

Different types of problems emerge with Ezekiel who operated in Babylon in the years 594-570 B.C. and whose prophetic book ‘is the most difficult to comprehend.’ Wild imagination, fiery disposition, temperament, and in the text ‘visions, allegories, symbolic functions’ – there is so much of this that some critics assign all of this to a dysfunctional and nervous disposition of the prophet, suggesting paralysis, catalepsy or even insanity. They go too far, but it is certain that the Hebrew text is ‘substantially flawed.’ The Jews were not allowed to read the beginning and end of Ezekiel before turning 30 (Archutowski 1927, 333-336). Also the rabbis did not permit the reading of the Song of Songs before reaching the age of 30. This is what Origen wrote on the subject: ‘Here is my opinion and advice which I give to anyone who is not free of the assault of flesh and blood and who has not renounced the material kind of love , let him refrain completely from reading this book and all that is said in it’ (Archutowski 1927, 244).

Thus it is not difficult to understand the claim that inspiration coming from the Holy Spirit did not take away anything from the individuality of the authors. Besides such exuberant outbursts as in the two just mentioned books we have the ultra-calm advice and rules for ‘prudent life’ in Proverbs or such a ‘collection of comments and reflections on human happiness’ as can be found in the ‘words of Koheleth’ (i.e. Ecclesiasticus) in spite of the fact that ‘in the arrangement of these reflections there is no systematic order nor is there a logical development of thought’ (Archutowski 1927, 227-245).

It is impossible not to mention here the fact that some parts of the Old Testament scandalize; for example the behaviour of some of the Judges or of Judith. However ‘the author of the Book of Judges represented things as they were in fact without condoning them ... It must be remembered that not everything that is described in the Holy Scriptures by the biblical authors is confirmed and approved of ... She (Judith) is not presented as completely sinless and guiltless’ (Archutowski 1927, 92-170).

Thus the interpretation of the Old Testament by the Church does not refer to the whole text. The Church ‘restricts the authentic interpretation of the Bible to matters of faith and morals, pertaining to the development of the Christian doctrine.

Only to those fragments  that pertain to the doctrinal dogma’ (Michalski 1928, 16-17). A few more words are needed about the Pentateuch since naturally we shall be dealing most with the books of Moses.

The pontifical Biblical Commission on 27th June 1906 declared the following about the books of Moses: "It is not necessarily Moses himself who wrote down the laws proclaimed by him nor did he literarily dictate them to someone; indeed it is possible that a work conceived by him was entrusted to someone else for editing, in such a manner however that the writing be strictly according to his instructions and Moses later approved the text and proclaimed it under his name. The authenticity of the Pentateuch is also not contradicted by the fact that Moses used sources written earlier or passed on orally for its compilation and that under the inspiration of God these may have been either incorporated into his work without change or appropriately shortened and supplemented.

Also the authenticity of the Pentateuch is not affected by the fact that after the death of Moses some other inspired author has made some additions; nor that with time some phrases or explanations entered the text or that old fashioned forms and expressions were appropriately modernized; finally many erroneous teachings can be accredited to later copying’ (Michalski 1912, 397-398).

The Pentateuch was written between the Exodus from Egypt and entry into Canaan. ‘It is obvious that the author knew Egyptian issues better than those pertaining to Canaan, and in particular he had knowledge of issues from the times of the Ramasid pharaohs.’ What we call the Mosaic Law was undoubtedly ‘proclaimed by Moses but not necessarily written by him.’

It is possible that ‘he wrote some parts of the Pentateuch as we know it today and in particular Deuteronomy or at least its legislative part’ (Kruszynski 1915, 97). Generally it is also accepted by critics that the Pentateuch besides laws coming undoubtedly from Moses contains also laws that have probably been formulated later. In fact even the ‘Pentateuch itself contains indications that some parts of it are of later origin ... The present text of the Pentateuch contains numerous inconsistencies; we have also several anachronisms. Also, it is not possible to deny that the Pentateuch contains details that indicate a period later than the times of Moses’ (Michalski 1912, 358, 383, 392). We learn further from this biblical scholar that ‘no one claims that the Pentateuch in its progression to our times has not undergone any change or modification.’ It contains a great deal of civil law, that is changeable ‘according to place and time.’ Thus ‘new regulations were probably introduced more than once without removing the old ones’ (Michalski 1912, 394, 396).

Thus the Church herself conducted and conducts extensive critical investigations that constitute the enormity of biblical science. The situation was justly described by a Polish biblical scholar: ‘He who only reads the Holy Scripture but does not take care to comprehend accurately what he has read, to clarify various difficulties, he is like an astronomer wishing to study the sky with an unaided eye’ (Kruszynski 1915, 30).

‘In the field of Old Testament studies there are still many unresolved problems and complicated issues that differ not only Catholic and radical experts, but even among Catholic scholars there reigns a great diversity of views. The declarations made so far by the pontifical Biblical Commission have clarified only parts of the difficulties, and some were even the cause of further discussions. Furthermore in the Catholic biblical literature we still do not have studies of all the holy books of the Old Testament conducted in a monographic manner according to the requirements of present day biblical science’ (Archutowski 1927, Ch. V).

Copyright © Feliks Koneczny and Maciej Giertych 2018

Version: 9th January 2018