A Rabbi's Impressions of the Oberammergau Passion Play, by Joseph Krauskopf, , at sacred-texts.com
p. 10 p. 11
ORIGINALLY but one lecture on the Oberammergau Passion Play was contemplated by the author. Developing his subject, he found himself obliged, in justice to his theme, to make of the one lecture three. The widespread interest which the treatment of the subject awakened, and the keen desire of large audiences, and of a yet larger reading publicboth of Jews and non-Jewsto hear and read more and more of a Rabbi's Impressions of that unique presentation of the gospel story of Christ's Passion at Oberammergau, not only changed the three lectures into six, not only exhausted two large pamphlet issues of them, but has also necessitated this new edition, supplemented by a number of chapters, which bear on the subject, and which throw additional light on the question discussed.
But the great demand for these lectures is not the only reason for their issuance in book-form. They would have been delivered
from the pulpit of the Reform Congregation Keneseth Israel, even if no interest in them had been evinced, and they would have been issued in printed form, even if no one had shown a desire to peruse them. The discourses would have been obliged to create that interest, no matter how difficult the task, no matter how slow the progress. The Oberammergau Passion Play has made clear that there are falsehoods enacted and taught that must be uprooted, and that there are truths suppressed that must be brought to light, and given the widest publicity, if the Jew is to be spared further suffering, and if the Christian is to be saved from further wrong-doing against Israel.
This is the purpose of this book. It is issued for the Jew and for the non-Jew, with love for both, in the spirit of truth, in the interest of peace. It is believed that the book contains a possibility of reuniting in Jesus, the man, those who have been separated in Jesus, the Christ. It is believed that with such an end as a possibility, the book may at least be found deserving of a thoughtful perusal.
In the telling of its story, studious care has been exercised to avoid theological technicalities and the scholastic pedantries, with which books of this nature are usually burdened. It has been deemed advisable to spare the reader a mass of citations and references, Biblical and otherwise, which, without giving additional light to the general reader, might but have confused him and made the reading unattractive. The literature upon which the author bases his arguments is accessible to all. The Old and the New Testament, the Talmudic and Patristic writings, Ancient History and Modern Reason, these are the sources from which he has drawn his conclusions. His sources are at the command of all, and his conclusions can be weighed and tested by all. His convictions he asks none to accept and none to condemn until his arguments have been subjected to a critical examination.
To many the author's presentation of the subject will be new, to many unwelcome. It is to be remembered, however, that looking at the gospel stories, for many years, from the view-point of one's own creed is not a
sufficient ground for the condemnation of another's point of view. The other side is entitled to a hearing, until research and study have proven it false. There was a time in church-history when condemnation without examination was not only a duty but also an act of faith. In our days, however, it is our duty, in the interest of faith, to subject belief to critical inquiry. If our faith rest on truth, it need have no fear of inquiry, not even of the most critical. If our faith cannot stand the test, not all the opposition of all the world will enable it to stand in the face of truth. Faith is mighty, Truth is mightier, but mightiest of all is the Faith that rests on Truth.