Page 168 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 25

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S C H O L A R L Y W O R K S O N J E W I S H
P H I L O S O P H Y A N D R E L I G I O N
By J o s e p h
L.
B l a u
I
n
t h e
n i n e t e e n t h
c e n t u r y
,
especially in Germany and to an
extent in other centers of Jewish life, Jewish scholars began
to apply to their studies of Jewish philosophy and religion th
methods and standards that prevailed in general academic re-
search. The results of this “scientific study of Judaism” (
Wissen
-
schaft des Juden thum s
), embodied in a number of books of lasting
value, bestowed new meaning upon the whole idea of Jewish
scholarship. A new era began in which many aspects of Jewish
life and thought were examined by students who, because they
were university-trained, brought to their work the linguistic,
literary, textual, historical, philosophical, and critical criteria
of scholarship, and because they were Jewish, a sympathetic
understanding that only occasionally passed over into apologetics
and special pleading.
During the quarter century we review and record in this anni-
versary volume, the “scientific study of Judaism” has been pur-
sued with rigor and competence at least as great as that of the
nineteenth century founders of the movement and with addi-
tional advantages. The tools of academic scholarship have been
refined. Much ground was cleared by our predecessors. New
disciplines, like sociology, have contributed profoundly to our
ability to understand and interpret the Jewish past. A far higher
percentage of Jewish youth, especially in the United States of
America, enjoys the advantage of higher education, and notably
in the past twenty-five years many more young men of Jewish
background, with varying degrees of Jewish interest and vary-
ing amounts of Jewish training, have entered academic life. Not
all these Jews in scholarship dedicate even a part of their research
to Jewish themes, but some devote enough time to work of this
sort to produce a large body of sound scholarly studies.
One important consequence of the broad educational and
academic background of these scholars is that they are at least as
familiar with the general development of Western culture as
they are with its Jewish element. As a result, they do not treat
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