"THIS BOOK IS AN INEXHAUSTIBLE SOURCE OF LIVING WISDOM AND CONSOLATION. READ THEREIN AND THINK THEREON. A. EINSTEIN"
As the world’s most famous scientist, Einstein was often asked to make public pronouncements about God and religion. Prominently involved in the public debate about “Religion and Science” in the 1930s (and after), Einstein is known to have professed a “cosmic religion” and a disbelief in a personal God. But because Einstein would not publicly engage with sensitive religious questions that he felt were too highly charged, many of Einstein’s most significant statements on god and religion were in fact made only in private circumstances – as here. On many important religious topics, therefore, Einstein’s full position remains publicly unknown. This is very certainly the case with regard to his view of the Bible.
Einstein’s inscription in this bible significantly alters our understanding of his view of the bible. The Bible was, in truth, one of Einstein’s favorite book — he affirmed as much in a private 1926 letter to his sister Maja (in which he also cited Don Quixote as a beloved narrative). But because the public record of Einstein’s view of the Bible is otherwise exceedingly slim, our understanding of his view has in large measure been shaped—or perhaps misshaped—by a single private statement Einstein made to author Eric (or Erik) Gutkind in a 1954 letter. Writing Gutkind about his recently published book on Judaism, Choose Life (1952), Einstein very candidly stated: ”the Bible [is] a collection of honorable, but still primitive legends which are nevertheless pretty childish.... For me the Jewish religion like all other religions is an incarnation of the most childish superstitions.” These remarks—which seemingly paint Einstein as man standing in opposition to the Bible—have been repeatedly offered as his definitive view of the text. By contrast, the present volume evidences Einstein’s respect—and arguably even reverence—for the Bible. Rather than declaring the Bible to be a collection of childish and primitive legends, this statement presents it as a work of “inexhaustible” depth. The inscription present here offers a powerful counterpoint to the Gutkind letter, and opens new channels for thought and debate regarding Einstein's views OF the Bible, Judaism, and religion in general.
The present Bible was given to Harriet Hamilton by Einstein and his wife, Elsa, in 1932. The Einsteins visited Caltech during the winters in the early 1930s, and it would seem that during this period Hamilton temporarily served as Elsa’s—and possibly Albert’s—secretary. Given this, it is likely that the Bible, gifted to Hamilton in February 1932, was A gesture of appreciation, extended to an employee for whom the couple displayed an obvious fondness.
A REMARKABLE ASSOCIATION ITEM, AFFIRMATIVELY LINKING ONE OF HISTORY'S GREATEST PHYSICISTS WITH ONE OF ITS MOST REVERED TEXTS
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