Page 19 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 22

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ISRAEL’S NEW HISTORIOGRAPHY
B
y
S
id n e y
B. H
oen ig
L
i t e r a r y
creativity, perforce, is not
ex nihilo;
its fruits always
sprout naturally from earlier plantings. To speak therefore
of a new and unique literary output as resulting now from the
emergence of the Jewish State, would only be hyperbolic. The
contributions of Israeli scholars in the field of post-biblical his­
tory in the past seventeen years basically reflect the wells dug
before 1948 in the academic field of historiography, since the
span of years for new creativity is still very short to allow for
precise evaluation.
Examination of the major portion of writings on post-biblical
history till about the Mohammedan period discloses that, in
the main, the early Russian and German schools of thought
still exerted their scholastic impact. What is specifically unique
is that in only rare instances do historical writings with a singu­
lar Israeli tone, stamp or taste come from the halls of the Hebrew
University whose cornerstone was laid in 1917. The disciplined
scholars had originally drunk from the fountains of Oxford
or Harvard or had studied first in Tubingen or Sorbonne—not
being nourished on the wholly new in Jerusalem.
New impetus was stimulated by the publication houses—Mosad
Bialik, Dvir, Mosad ha-Rav Kook, Kiryat Sefer, Massada, Magnes
Press and Hakibutz Hameuchad—which especially encouraged
historic studies.
The attempt since 1948 has veered toward emancipation from
German Wissenschaft. Scholars like Yehezkel Kaufmann and
M. Z. Segal in their biblical and post-biblical studies began to
seek pure, unadulterated Jewish inspiration and to drink from
virgin waters. The first days of Israeli independence inspired a
reaction to the German Kultur harshness or anti-Semitic higher
criticism. Especially did the initial years stimulate renewed study
in
Shibat Tzion,
the Return from the Exile, with consequent
effect on the interpretation of history.
A deep chauvinism developed, evident in the manner Joseph
Klausner
rewrote
his monumental
History of the Second Temple
(Jerusalem, 1961), first planned in Odessa. The “Ingathering of
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