The Problem

  • Lionel Kochan


‘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


World History Jewish History Jewish State Jewish Question Civilise Nation 
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Copyright information

© Lionel Kochan 1977

Authors and Affiliations

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

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