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Prophets of the Past

Interpreters of Jewish History

; Steven Rendall (Oversetter)

Prophets of the Past

Prophets of the Past is the first book to examine in depth how modern Jewish historians have interpreted Jewish history. Michael Brenner reveals that perhaps no other national or religious group has used their shared history for so many different ideological and political purposes as the Jews. Les mer
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Prophets of the Past

Prophets of the Past is the first book to examine in depth how modern Jewish historians have interpreted Jewish history. Michael Brenner reveals that perhaps no other national or religious group has used their shared history for so many different ideological and political purposes as the Jews. He deftly traces the master narratives of Jewish history from the beginnings of the scholarly study of Jews and Judaism in nineteenth-century Germany; to eastern European approaches by Simon Dubnow, the interwar school of Polish-Jewish historians, and the short-lived efforts of Soviet-Jewish historians; to the work of British and American scholars such as Cecil Roth and Salo Baron; and to Zionist and post-Zionist interpretations of Jewish history. He also unravels the distortions of Jewish history writing, including antisemitic Nazi research into the "Jewish question," the Soviet portrayal of Jewish history as class struggle, and Orthodox Jewish interpretations of history as divinely inspired.
History proved to be a uniquely powerful weapon for modern Jewish scholars during a period when they had no nation or army to fight for their ideological and political objectives, whether the goal was Jewish emancipation, diasporic autonomy, or the creation of a Jewish state. As Brenner demonstrates in this illuminating and incisive book, these historians often found legitimacy for these struggles in the Jewish past.

Acknowledgments xi Introduction: Viewpoints on Jewish History 1 Objectivity and Partiality 2 Remembering and Forgetting 4 Nation and Religion 6 Scholarship and Ideology 9 Heroes and Eras 12 Chapter 1: Jewish History as History of Religion Wissenschaft des Judentums in the Service of Reform and Emancipation 17 Christian Beginnings 18 Traditional Reverberations 21 In the Service of Religious Reform 24 In the Battle for Political Emancipation 27 Jewish Religious History as Counterhistory 36 One Religion among Numerous Nations 42 Chapter 2: Between Religion and Nation Graetz and His Construction of Jewish History 53 The Battle against Reform and Assimilation 57 Only a History of Suffering and Learning? 60 The Debate with Christianity and Germanness 64 Rationalism and Mysticism 68 Translations and New Interpretations 73 External Opinions on Jewish History 82 Chapter 3: The Nationalization of Jewish History The View from the East 93 Dubnow: Diaspora Nationalism as a Historical Concept 93 Polish Jewish Historiography between the Wars 106 Under the Soviet Star: Jewish History as Class History 114 Chapter 4: Jewish History without Tears? New Perspectives in the West 121 Baron in New York: Against the Lachrymose Version of Jewish History 123 Roth in Oxford: More Than a History of Victims 131 From the Salon to the Academy: The Beginnings of Jewish Women's History 136 The Return of Tears: Jewish History versus the History of the "Jewish Question" 144 A Signal in Dark Times: The "Jewish Contribution" to Civilization 151 Chapter 5: The Return of the Nation to Its Land Zionist Narrative Perspectives 157 The Revolt against the Father: The Break with Wissenschaft des Judentums 158 Patricide: Scholem's Metaphorics of Death 163 New Fathers: The "Jerusalem School" under Baer and Dinur 171 New Sons: Haim Hillel Ben-Sasson, Shmuel Ettinger, and Jacob Katz 183 The Revolt of the Grandchildren: The New Historians 192 Chapter 6: Postmodern Influences A New Subjectivity 197 From One Jewish Community to Many Jewish Cultures 204 Epilogue 217 Notes 221 References 265 Index 297

At long last, a definitive volume on modern Jewish historiography in English. Michael Brenner here follows in the wake of his teacher, Yosef Hayim Yerushalmi, by analyzing with great breadth and depth the diverse byways of Jewish historical writing. An acknowledged master of German-Jewish history, Brenner expertly charts old an

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