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The Problem

  • Lionel Kochan

Abstract

‘Within the whole gate of my people (Ruth III, 11) there has not yet arisen an historian in Israel like Josephus …they ceased, the writers of memorials, they ceased, until I arose, even I, Joseph’ (Judges v, 7). In these words, R. Joseph HaCohen (1496–1578), the author of a history of the kings of France and Ottoman Turkey, signified the novelty of his enterprise. His contemporary, R. Solomon Ibn Verga, seems to confirm this notion of Jewish unconcern with the past and to make it a source of reproach. In his chronicle of persecution, Shevet Yehudah (Adrianople, 1553), Ibn Verga seems to suggest a contrast, unfavourable to the Jews, between their attitude to history and that of the Christians. At one point, when he is relating the downfall of Persia in its war with Ishmael (Islam), allegedly because of the persecution it had inflicted on the Jews, Ibn Verga expresses the hope that the King of Spain will benefit from this precedent, when it is brought before him, ‘as is the custom of the Christians, for they will wish to know earlier matters to take counsel from them and this is because of their insight and their enlightenment’.1

Keywords

World History Jewish History Jewish State Jewish Question Civilise Nation 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Notes

  1. 1.
    Shevet Yehudah, Ha’Shmad Ha’Shlishi, ed. A. Shohat (repr. Jerusalem, 1947); see also pp. 37ff below.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
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  4. 11.
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  5. 12.
    L. Zunz, Literaturgeschichte der synagogalen Poesie (Berlin, 1865) p. 1;Google Scholar
  6. Zunz’s pungent comment: ‘lacking a state, therefore an historical unit’ (Gesammelte Schriften, ed. M. Brann, Vol. I, Frankfrut a.M., 1908, p. 136Google Scholar
  7. Simon Bernfeld: ‘After the destruction of the Second Temple, historical consciousness utterly ceased in Israel’ (‘Dorshei Reshumot’, Ha’Shiloah, ii, Apr-Sept 1899, 193);Google Scholar
  8. A. A. Neuman: ‘The art of historic writing among the Jews came to a sudden and abrupt end with the destruction of the Jewish state in Palestine … all interest in history was abandoned. In the national shipwreck, every secular literary interest was submerged’ (The Shebet Yehudah and Sixteenth-Century Historiography, Louis Ginzberg Jubilee Volume, English Section, New York, 1945, p. 255);Google Scholar
  9. J. Meisl, Graetz, eine Würdigung (Berlin, 1917) p. 27;Google Scholar
  10. A. I. Agus, Al Historiografiya shel Yisrael ba’golah, S. K. Mirsky Jubilee Volume, ed. Bernstein and Ghurgin (Hebrew Section) (New York, 1958) p. 441;Google Scholar
  11. B. D. Weinryb, Reappraisals in Jewish History, S. W. Baron Jubilee Volume, ii (Jerusalem, 1974) pp. 943–4.Google Scholar
  12. Morris Cohen, ‘Philosophies of Jewish History’, Jewish Social Studies, i, no. 1 (Jan 1939) 40.Google Scholar
  13. E. Bickermann writes: ‘un oubli général couvrit les siècles qui s’étaient écoulés entre Alexandre et Auguste, parce que personne n’avait plus intérêt à s’en souvenir…Après Hérode et surtout sur les ruines du Temple, qui pouvait avoir de l’intérêt pour un Judas Macca- bée?’ (‘La Chaîne de la tradition pharisienne’, Revue Biblique, lix, 1952, 45–7).Google Scholar
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    S. Holdheim, Das Ceremonialgesetz im Messiasreich (Schwerin, 1845) pp. 125ff.Google Scholar
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  18. See also G. F. Moore, ‘Christian Writers on Judaism’, Harvard Theological Review, xiv (1921) 197–254CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Rosemary Ruether, Faith and Fratricide (London, 1975) passim.Google Scholar
  20. 18.
    M. Weber, Gesammelte Aufsätze zur Religionssoziologie, iii (Tübingen, 1923) p. 442;Google Scholar
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  22. Freddy Raphael, ‘Weber and Judaism’, Leo Baeck Year Book, xviii (1973) esp. pp. 59–60;Google Scholar
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    A Study of History (Oxford, 1933) i, pp. 35, 51; v, p. 8. On this see N. Rotenstreich, The Recurring Pattern (London, 1963) ch. 4;Google Scholar
  26. H. M. Orlinsky, ‘On Toynbee’s Use of the Term Syriac for One of His Societies’, In the Time of Harvest, Essays in Honour of Abba Hillel Silver (New York, 1963) pp. 255–69;Google Scholar
  27. Peter Kaupp, ‘Toynbee and the Jews’, Wiener Library Bulletin, xxi, no. 1 (winter 1966–7).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Lionel Kochan 1977

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lionel Kochan
    • 1
  1. 1.University of WarwickUK

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