Page 58 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 28

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J
e w i s h
B
o o k
A
n n u a l
52
now Gregg International Publishers make Judaica an important
section of its expanding list.
In the field of Judaica, the reprinting of
The Jewish Encyclo-
pedia
is surely the greatest
tour de force.
Its appearance at the
beginning of the century was a tribute to the capacity of American
Jewry to think big even in its formative years. Naturally it is out
of date in a number of respects, but despite its unevenness repre-
sents the fruits of a Golden Age of Jewish learning and is an in-
dispensable adjunct to Jewish research. T h a t the color plates dis-
appeared from the rep rin t was no great dim inution of the use-
fulness of the Encyclopedia. It was a pity that the publishers did
not make use of the
1925
edition which contained the minimum
of additional facts bringing the main body of the work up to date;
it was even more of a pity that they did not project a supple-
mentary volume which could have encompassed all the necessary
additional information, but reprinting is a mechanical affair, and
no doubt publishers look upon a diversion from mechanical sim-
plicity as an unnecessary expense.
A little religious zeal can easily overcome the limitations of
mechanics, and even, it seems, respect for the original author.
Forty years ago Arthur Marmorstein wrote a learned volume
under the title
The Old Rabbin ic Doctrine of God.
Jew’ College,
London, where he was an honored teacher, now responds to dif-
ferent influences, and the reprint has been announced as
The
O ld Rabbinic Doctrine of G-d.
One awaits the book itself to
ascertain whether the not inconsiderable labor of replacing “God”
by “G־d” has been undertaken throughout the text.
It has become the common practice to furnish the reprint with
an introductory discourse by a contemporary scholar in the same
field as the writer of the original. In many of those issued by Ktav
this is called the “Prolegomenon.” We may boggle at these five
syllables, but there is no reason to believe that the unknown
genius who lighted on it was merely trying to show forth his
learning; he had to find a word which had the same meaning as
“Foreword,” “Introduction,” or “Preface” but which, since one
or other of them was likely to be present already, was different.
These prolegomena are often different from the traditional
haskamot—
commendations from the great—with which rabbinical
works were traditionally furnished. Sometimes (and this is healthy)
they take a critical attitude to the work of the earlier scholar; the
later scholar feels that he has the advantage of perspective, so that
collectively they take on something of the character of an alumni
reunion, with the class of 1970 inclined to eye disdainfully the old
fogies of 1900.
Readers of
The Jewish Quarterly Review
will not be surprised
to discover that in Dr. Solomon Zeitlin’s “Prolegomenon” to