Page 33 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 12

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theological writings of Schechter, Kohler and Kaplan have en-
riched the religious thinking of modern Jewry not only in this
country bu t in other lands as well.
The development of Jewish philosophical speculation and of
religious ideas and institutions in Judaism cannot be well under-
stood unless their growth can be traced within the realms of
history. In these circumstances Jewish history cannot be neg-
lected. I t plays an important pa r t in the literature by and about
Jews. Except for the writings of Flavius Josephus, the early
American publications dealing with Jewish history were all by
non-Jewish authors and were not intended for the exclusive use of
Jews. The first substantial Jewish presentation of Jewish history
by an American author was the
History of the Israelitish Nation
,
from Abraham to the present time, by Isaac M. Wise (Albany,
N. Y., 1854). Evidently it represented the first volume of a
projected larger work which was not completed, since it does not
go beyond the Babylonian Exile. The author resumed the task
in later years and published another volume,
History of the He-
brews' Second Commonwealth
(Cincinnati, 1880), intended as a
continuation of the earlier work and bringing it up to the destruc-
tion of the Second Temple in the year 70 C. E. A little over a
decade later The Jewish Publication Society of America began
the publication in this country of the
History of the Jews
by H.
Graetz (6 vols., Philadelphia, 1891-1898). Actually, it represents
a condensation of the author’s monumental
Geschichte der Juden
which ends with the turbulent year of 1848; the American edition,
unlike the original, is brought down to 1870. In later years the
work was brought up-to-date by the publication of a supple-
mentary volume,
A Century of Jewish Life>
by Ismar Elbogen
(Philadelphia, 1944). I t brings the record almost up to the re-
establishment of the State of Israel. A classic in modern Jewish
historiography, Graetz’s
History
remains the leading work on the
subject. W ritten with warmth and enthusiasm it is comprehensive
in scope and remains unsurpassed by any other work of its kind.
I t represents a major American contribution to the popularization
of Jewish history. Another significant contribution to the his-
toriography of the Jews is the
History of the Jewish People
by
Max L. Margolis and Alexander Marx (Philadelphia, 1927).
Though intended for the general reader, it manages to present
within the confines of one closely printed volume the entire history
of the Jews, covering every phase and recording every important
event in the long span of three thousand years of Jewish experi-
ence. Whatever shortcomings are inherent in a one volume con-
densation of the diversified story of Jewish life in all ages and in
BLOCH — AMERICAN JEWISH LITERATURE
27