"people of the book"

Duane Campbell dcamp911 at JUNO.COM
Sat Jun 16 01:00:14 UTC 2001

On Fri, 15 Jun 2001 14:16:23 -0400 Mark_Mandel at DRAGONSYS.COM
>      Many Asians, like Jews, are "people of the book" (the Mandarin
> and
>      Talmudic traditions) and are ascending America's surest ladder
> of
>      social mobility, the system of higher education.
> We discussed this phrase in early December of 1999; it's originally
> (a
> translation of) an Arabic expression referring to those who share
> with
> Muslims a reverence for the (variously defined) Bible (mainly to
> Jews and
> Christians).

This also puzzled me when I first read it, though generally I read George
Will with the same reverence and open acceptance of a Baptist reading the
Old Testament. Obviously (hopefully) it was a metaphor for one culture
that accepts another quite different culture because of some common
thread. Note that he used quotation marks, and Will does not use them
with the abandon of Bernstein's sign painter and poster letterer.

Will is a very careful, if sometimes abstruse, wordsmith.  He could not
have misconstrued the meaning of "people of the book." Please. Otherwise
my entire belief system comes crashing down on my head, witht he last
page of Newsweek fluttering down to finish the job.


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