Page 170 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 25

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Here should also be mentioned the work of Elias Bickerman,
From Ezra to the Last of the Maccabees
(Schocken, 1962), a fine
account of the Second Commonwealth roots of postbiblical
Judaism. Professor Bickerman’s outstanding knowledge of the
texts and his familiarity with the non-Jewish materials of the
period of his study contribute to the originality and significance
of this work. The late Dr. Joshua Trachtenberg’s account of
medieval folk beliefs concerning the Jews,
Th e D e v il and the
Jews
(Yale University Press, 1943), while not so important for
our subject as his earlier
Jewish Magic and Supers tition
(Behr-
man’s Jewish Book House, 1939), certainly shows how great a
loss to Jewish scholarship was his untimely death.
Historical Scholarship by Rabbis
The result of this historical scholarship by American rabbis
rests, for the most part, on a narrower base. I t demonstrates less
technical competence and indicates far too much of an apologetic
attitude. Despite these general strictures, a number of works
stand out for their contributions to our understanding of Jewish
philosophy and religion. Jacob B. Agus, for example, has pub-
lished six books of value during the last twenty-five years:
Modern Philosophies of Judaism
(Behrman’s Jewish Book House,
1941);
Banner of Jerusalem: Th e L ife , T im es and Though ts of
A. I. Kuk
(Bloch Publishing Co., 1946);
Gu ideposts in Modern
Judaism
(Bloch Publishing Co., 1954);
The E vo lu tion of Jewish
Though t from B ib lica l T im es to the O pen ing of the Modern
Era
(Abelard-Schuman, 1959);
Th e M ean ing of Jewish H istory
(2 vols., Abelard-Schuman, 1964); and
The Vision and the Way:
An In terpre ta tion of Jewish Ethics
(Frederick Ungar, 1967). Ben
Zion Bokser has produced a like number:
The Legacy of Mai-
mon ides
(Philosophical Library, 1950);
T h e W isdom of the
Ta lm ud : A Thousand Years of Jewish Though t
(Philosophical
Library, 1951);
From the W or ld of the Cabbalah: Th e Ph ilosophy
of R a b b i Judah Loew of Prague
(Philosophical Library, 1954);
Judaism and Modern Man: Essays in Jewish Theo logy
(Philo-
sophical Library, 1957);
Judaism , Profile of a Faith
(A. A. Knopf,
1963); and
Judaism and the Christian P redicam en t
(Alfred A.
Knopf, 1967). Philip D. Bookstaber published a monograph on
The Idea of the D eve lopm en t of the Soul in M ed iaeva l Jewish
Philosophy
(M. Jacobs, 1950). Israel H. Levinthal wrote
Judaism
Speaks to the Modern W or ld
(Abelard-Schuman, 1963). W.
Gunther Plaut presented
The Case for the Chosen People
(Doubleday and Co., 1965). This is but a small sampling of a
long list. Each of these writers has “researched” his subject
extensively, and none of these works is without interest and
insight. Most Jewish readers could benefit greatly from a study