Page 22 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 22

Basic HTML Version

16
J
e w i s h
B
o o k
A
n n u a l
nation after the prophetic mode and the re-settling of the people
preparing for a thriving future—themes not unlike those of our
own day.
The four volumes of Gedaliahu Alon (
Studies in Jewish
History,
Tel Aviv, 1952-58), on the period of the Second Com­
monwealth, similarly deserve commendation. His studies on the
national devotion to the Hasmonean family, on the Pharisaic
relationship to Rome and the Herodians, and on the enactments
of Rabban Johanan ben Zakkai after the destruction of the
Temple as well as his picturization of the observance of the
festival of Sukkot in the Second Temple era, are chapters which
can be read with thoughts of present day problems and probable
solutions.
When one reviews Alon’s analysis of the administration of
justice in ancient Judea, or his description of the social, political
and economic conditions after the year 70, one cannot help but
make comparisons to the present Israeli government. The details
of the Bar Kochba rebellion particularly are written in the
vein of the War of Liberation. Hence Alon’s prestige is upheld
today in Israeli scholarly circles.
Jewish-Hellenistic Studies
Another recognized contributor was Avigdor Tcherikover. His
studies on papyriology,
Corpus Papyrorum Judaicarum
(2 vols.,
Jerusalem, 1957-58), have opened a new area of comparative
study. His
Jews in the Graeco-Roman World
(Tel Aviv, 1961)
and his
Hellenistic Civilization and the Jews
(Tel Aviv, 1963;
first edition 1930) present an excellent portrait of the early years
—the Ptolemaic and Seleucidean eras—when Hellenism first came
into contact with Judaism. The mutual influences, the cultural
climate and the comparison of the Jewish community and the
Greek city have prompted historians to change their earlier
concepts. Using the papyri as new source material for the study
of the economic life of the Jews in Egypt and for evaluation of
officials, peasants and soldiers, has opened new vistas to the
historian. Likewise, his comparative study of Jewish and Hel­
lenistic law and his chapters on the Jewish Revolt under T ra jan
have provided students with a better perspective of the critical
moments in Jewish development.
In this realm of Jewish-Hellenistic studies Yehoshua Gutman
too has added much. His two-volume
The Beginnings of Jewish
Hellenistic Literature
(Jerusalem, 1958-63) includes analysis of
the early historiography of the Greeks as appertaining to the
Jews, with special emphasis on the trends leading to the con­
tributions of Ben Sira and the early interpretations of Jewish
lore as seen by Greeks like Haecateus of Abdera or Aristobulus.