Page 23 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 22

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H
o en ig
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istor iography
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Studies in Jewish Hellenism
(Jerusalem, 1960) by Johanan
Levi on “The Meeting of Two Worlds” and “The Place of Juda­
ism in the Graeco-Roman World” also aroused deep interest.
His description of Second Temple events as portrayed by Hel­
lenistic writers, his weighing of Cicero’s remarks about the Jews,
and his study of the aborted plan of Julian the Apostate to
rebuild the Temple as well as of Tacitus’s reflections on Jews and
Judaism, are not only interesting from the viewpoint of ancient
classical impressions but deserve exceptional note for comparison
with modern appraisals of Jews and Judaism. Such an approach
has removed the stigma that the study of history is “dry” and
of no concern to the present.
This trend in Judeo-Hellenistic studies has attracted the great
scholar Y. F. Baer who, in many articles and especially in his
Israel Among the Nations
(Jerusalem, 1955), has shown the
interrelationship of the two cultures and how Greek institutions
reflected upon Jewish nationhood and civilization. Here Baer
stresses the importance of the ancient Hasidim of the Hasmonean
period as the forerunners of the development of the Mishnah
Code.
In this realm of tradition the new edition of H. Albeck’s
Mishnah
(Jerusalem, 1959), especially the Introduction giving
the historic growth of the oral law, deserves consideration as one
of the finest contributions of the new State. J. N. Epstein’s
Introductions to the Texts and Literature of the Tannaim and
Amoraim
(Jerusalem, 1957-63) have, in a brilliant manner,
likewise added much to the correct textual understanding of
the Talmud and with it the clarification of the early cultural
history and its metamorphosis. Much of this has been edited by
his pupil Ezra Z. Melamed who also produced popular volumes
of
Guides to Talmudic Literature
(Jerusalem, 1961).
On the other hand, the volumes on Bar Kochba demonstrate
that the intellectual and cultural histories have not displaced
the political interests. S. Abramsky’s work
Bar Kochba
(Tel Aviv,
1961) on the rebellion together with Shmuel Yevin’s book on
the same subject, have aided in infusing Israeli youth with a
high sense of patriotism. The study of academic historic works
has not been confined to students but has also given inspira­
tion to the Israeli army.
The new translations of the
Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha
into Hebrew by Abraham Kahana (Jerusalem, 1936, 1964) have
restored these ancient works to their original environment. The
specialized studies on these extracanonical writings, as exempli­
fied in Yehoshua Grintz’
Judith,
display the present Israeli
attempt to regain full control of these intertestamental works
and to cloak them with a deep Jewish spirit.