Page 53 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 15

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BERGER AND KAUFMANN — ENCYCLOPEDIAS
45
thus far, it has reached midway in the letter 3 ; this may give
some idea of its comprehensiveness. American readers of Hebrew
will turn to it primarily for Jewish topics. They will find that in
scholarship it compares favorably with the old
Jewish Ency­
clopedia.
A t the same time, its articles are written to appeal also
to the ordinary educated person. The editors were able to draw
on Jewish scholars at the Hebrew University and elsewhere, such
as S. Assaf, B. Mazar, J . Klausner, and C. Roth (Professors Assaf
and Klausner are themselves associated with the editorial board).
Their articles embody the results of the latest research. The
encyclopedia is modeled after the famous
Enciclopedia Italianay
and has fairly good illustrations and bibliographies. A special
volume on “Erets Yisrael,” eagerly awaited, may be ready by
the time the present article appears.
Vallentine's Jewish Encyclopaedia
,7
edited by Albert M.
Hyamson and A. M. Silbermann, appeared in 1938 just before
the war, and should receive at least brief mention because of its
usefulness for quick reference. It manages to compress into one
small volume an astonishing array of facts about persons, ancient
and modern, and about places, ideas, rites and ceremonies, literary
works and political movements — information people most often
ask for. Subjects can frequently be found under headings more
specific than they would be in the larger encyclopedias. Vallen-
tine’s work is popular and, necessarily, in view of its brevity,
rather superficial. But it is accurate so far as it goes. The editors
and contributors are eminent men from all over the world, but
chiefly from Great Britain. The illustrations are unusually good
for a book of its size.
Israel has recently been prolific of encyclopedias, many of
minor value. As a recent article in
Ha-Arets
humorously com­
plains, the practice of bringing out ordinary monographs under
the title of encyclopedia has reached epidemic proportions. We
must, however, describe an Israeli encyclopedia now in process,
the Biblical Encyclopedia,8 that should attain international rec­
ognition in its special field.
The
Entsiklopedia M ikrait
(its Hebrew title) is an ency­
clopedia in the true sense of the word. It covers the widest range
of subjects relating to the Bible or contributing in any way to its
understanding. Thus it contains scientific articles not only on
persons, places and events, and on laws, legends and concepts
mentioned in the Bible, but also on all phases of the ancient Near
Eastern civilization within which the Bible was created: agriculture
7
London, Shapiro, Vallentine & Co., 1938. xi, 696 p.
8
Entsiklopedia Mikrait.
Jerusalem, Mosad Bialik, c l9 5 0 -
v. 1 - .