Page 77 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 2

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The Jewish Community.
B y S a l o
B a r o n . P h i l a d e l p h i a ,
T h e J e w i s h P u b l i c a t i o n S o c i e t y (1942) . 3 vols .
I t is no exaggeration to say that the first three volumes of Dr. Baron ushered in
a new era in Jewish historiography, having fully vindicated Simon Dubnow’s
quest for the sociorhistorical rather than the chronico-theological in the study of
Jewish history.
The Jewish Community
, by Salo Baron, is in a sense the fulfillment
of the promise held out in his
Social and Religious History of the Jews,
for, while
in the first three volumes he offers the framework of Jewish history, the present
books constitute the first complete edifice.
The study covers the Jewish Community from the days of the Babylonian
exile to the French Revolution, but its main emphasis is upon the rise, development,
achievement and failure of the Jewish Community in Europe during the Middle
Ages. The reason for this concentration, as the author puts it, is “ because of the
great richness and variety of its historic accomplishments, and genetically because
of its intimate linkage to Jewish community life throughout the world today.”
In Dr. Baron the Jewish scholar is wedded to the man of social vision, and this
combination is indeed a refreshing experience in Jewish historiography. As in the
case of the
Social and Religious History,
Dr. Baron does not allow the wealth of
documentary materials to overwhelm him or divert him from his charted path.
With the skills of an artist Dr. Baron deftly selects his documents, sifts his evidence,
and with the fine logic of a man of sound learning and clear understanding re-
constructs his data into living social and historic forces.
Whatever slight errors might have crept in by virtue of this great sweep and
“ familiarity” with sources, they are more than overshadowed by the bold attempt
at presenting the whole of the Jewish community rather than some well-rounded
fragments. Such a study of the Jewish community in its totality is particularly
valuable at this stage of Jewish history when Jewish life is shaken to its very
foundations and there is need for sounder knowledge and better understanding of
the Jewish Community of yesterday — to help evolve the Jewish community of
today and of tomorrow.
— S
a m u e l
l u m e n f i e l d
The Chicago Jewish Forum
From Jesus to Paul.
o s e p h
l a u s n e r
Translated by W. F.
t i n e s p r i n g
New York,
h e
a c m i l l a n
o m p a n y
This is a book written originally in Hebrew by a Professor of Hebrew in the
Hebrew University on Mount Scopus at Jerusalem. The work has been rendered
into excellent English by a Hebrew authority in his own right.
The work is a logical sequel to Dr. Klausner’s earlier interpretation of Jesus,
and the two volumes are based on a definite thesis. Dr. Klausner holds that Jesus,
like others in his period, believed sincerely that he was the Hebrew messiah fore-
told by the prophets, but in these pages it is denied that Jesus ever visualized the
development of a new and world-wide religion proclaimed by Paul and known as
Christianity. The whole of this detailed and masterly volume, filled with fascinating
information that only a traditional Jew can elucidate from the inside of a synagogue,
is ranged around this conception of a limited Jesus and an enthusiastic, but even
more limited, Paul.
WTithin the limitations that he lays down, Dr. Klausner is not only fair but
generous to the great Christian apostle. From a background that includes the
Diaspora, or Jewish dispersion, the full flowering of Hellenistic culture, the harsh
and triumphant autocracy of the Caesars, the last restless splendor of the Hebrew
worship in the Temple at Jerusalem, the strange little hero of belief in the resur-
rection emerges as we know Him in the New Testament, rushing over land and
sea with his evangel, scattering scraps of writing which Dr. Klausner declares to
be imperishable, arousing resentment that Dr. Klausner considers to have been
justified, and starting a faith that is admitted to be for all people and for all time.
The whole of this reconstruction of the past is as much a contribution to Christian
as to Jewish thinking.