Page 28 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 13

Basic HTML Version

Israel's History in Coins
(London, East and West
Library, 1953) contains a short text and many excellent illustra-
tions. Reifenberg concludes: “Although of good workmanship,
Jewish coins cannot be considered to be beautiful, as are Greek
or Roman coins. Their intrinsic value lies in the fact that they
are coins
sui generis
, fulfilling the demands of a people whose whole
life was interwoven with a messianic idea and whose national
aspirations could not be separated from its mission.”
A pioneer work on a similar theme,
Jewish Symbols on Ancient
, by Paul Romanoff (Philadelphia, Dropsie College, 1944)
was published after the untimely death of its author, curator of
the museum of the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York.
In a preface, Abraham A. Neuman writes: “The coins are im-
portant, too, as works of art. They are frequently the clearest
expressions of the creative art of the nation.”
Important works on the culture of our ancestors in the Holy
Land, including the arts, were written by Christian scholars. An
excellent survey by William Foxwell Albright of Johns Hopkins,
The Archaeology of Palestine
, was first published in 1932, and is
available since 1949 in a revised edition, in the Pelican Books
series. While the author does not expect archaeology to explain
the basic miracle of Israel’s faith, he believes that it can clarify
the history and geography of ancient Palestine and can help enor-
mously in making the miracle plausible to an intelligent person
whose vision is not shortened by a materialistic world view.
An imposing accomplishment is Erwin R. Goodenough’s
Symbols in the Greco-Roman Period
(Bollingen Series, Pantheon
Books, New York). Since 1953, four volumes (text and illustra-
tions) have been published, and the series is expected to include
eight to ten additional volumes. The Yale University scholar
holds that in the Greco-Roman era Judaism did not object to the
use of images, that, in fact, the Jews borrowed art forms and
symbols from their neighbors
the pagan symbols on Jewish
graves and synagogues).
Jacob Leveen, assistant keeper in the Department of Oriental
Printed Books and Manuscripts at the British Museum, based
The Hebrew Bible in Art
on his Schweigh Lectures delivered at the
British Academy, London, in 1940. This richly illustrated book,
published by the Academy four years later, deals with the attitude
of the three monotheistic religions to representational art and
discusses the wall-paintings at Dura-Europos and the illuminated