I had read quite a bit of the preview online - enough for me to be intrigued. I had to order it and have the hard cover in my hands. I needed to see it - hold it. To my dear friends who protested my e-book strategy. I do understand the need to hold a book - and just look at it. It was like meeting an old friend finally and being very impatient to get beyond the pleasantries to explore the essence of life together.
It is a gorgeous book. Hard cover. Black. Bold satiny scarlet letters spell it out... Ancient! - at the bottom "Cambridge." It is so perfect.
The first words, "In this book, eminent scholars of classical antiquity and ancient and medieval Judaism and Christianity explore the nature and place of forgiveness in the premodern Western world....."
And then the preface.... "Talk about forgiveness has reached astonishing proportions in the contemporary world. Forgiveness is said to do it all: it is the cure for wrongs both personal and political, the road to eternal salvation, and the secret to mental and physical health...."
I'm on a quest to find someone who agrees with me on forgiveness. For me this is is comparable to the Quest for the Holy Grail - I am looking for words. I am looking for answers...
As I scan the book, I revise that. I might not find the answers, but I am finding questions. "Is there such a thing in principle as getting "forgiveness" right once and for all? Is it possible to set out the necessary and sufficient conditions that define what it is is?
The questions and dialogue sound so familiar. I am astounded to be interested in this book. It is a miracle that I even want to read it.
I just spent some of yesterday reading Tolstoy and found him fascinating -- more fascinating than the summer. He was of the same mind as my ancestors....
This is truly all ancient.
“People often think the question of non-resistance to evil by force is a theoretical one, which can be neglected. Yet this question is presented by life itself to all men, and calls for some answer
from every thinking man. Ever since Christianity has been outwardly professed, this question is for men in their social life like the question which presents itself to a traveler when the road on which he has been journeying divides into two branches. He must go on and he cannot say: I will not think about it, but
will go on just as I did before. There was one road, now there are two, and he must make his choice.”
― Leo Tolstoy, The Kingdom of God Is Within You