Page 29 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 12

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BLOCH ----AMERICAN JEWISH LITERATURE
23
from the text the genuine Jewish spirit and the authoritative
traditional Jewish interpretation.
The publication of the first American printed text of the
Hebrew Scriptures (Philadelphia, 1814) and of the first American
Jewish version of those Scriptures in the English language (Phila-
delphia, 1853) marked definite steps in the rise of American
Jewish interest in biblical studies. The flow to these shores of
Jewish commentaries on biblical texts from European countries
stimulated th a t interest and encouraged American Jewish scholars
to vie with their colleagues abroad in advancing Jewish studies
in the Bible. Their contributions are notable and of durable
value. The commentary on the Book of Job by Rabbi Benjamin
Szold (Baltimore, 1888) was the first written in good Hebrew
and printed in this country. I t conveys much of the traditional
Jewish views, yet not without some originality in the explanation
of many passages, often adding a homiletical flavor. I t was
followed by American Jewish studies in Scriptural texts in Hebrew,
English and German. Most notable are the exegetical notes of
Arnold B. Ehrlich published in Hebrew
Mikra Kipeshuto
(3 vols.,
Berlin, 1899-1901) and in German
Randglossen zur hebraischen
Bibel
(6 vols., Berlin, 1909-1913). They comprise a rich collection
of brilliantly conceived notes on selected passages from the
Scriptures. Their publication made a profound impression in
the world of scholarship because of their display of the au thor’s
brilliance and originality. In his
Sprachgefuhl
for Hebrew, Ehrlich
was surpassed by none of his contemporary Bible exegetes. No
wonder his German commentary on the Psalms (Berlin, 1905)
as well as his
Randglossen
had such a profound influence upon
the modern elucidation of the biblical text.
Ehrlich was also the author of
Rahshe Perakim
, a manual
for the study of the Talmud (New York, 1900). I t was designed
to overcome difficulties students meet in efforts to master the
elements of Talmudic study. A similar work by Moses Mielziner
Introduction to the Talmud
(Cincinnati, 1894) has gone through
several editions. The last edition, revised and enlarged by Joshua
Bloch and Louis Finkelstein, appeared in 1925. These books
have done much for the advancement in America of the study
of the Talmud and its commentaries. While American editions
of the original text and of translations of the Talmud did not
make their appearance before the twentieth century, they were
preceded by important reference books by eminent American
scholars, without which the study of rabbinical texts is difficult.
Alexander Kohut’s
Aruch Completum
(Vienna, 1878-1892), an
exhaustive lexicographical work in nine volumes, was originally