Page 39 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 39

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GERBER / JEWISH HISTORICAL WRITING
33
Temple Scrolls. Lines can not be clearly drawn between ritual and
religion in studying ancient Israel and importan t historical in ­
sights can be found in the research o f Baruch Levine,
In the
Presence o f the Lord: A Study of Cult and Some Cultic Terms in Ancient
Israel
(Leiden, 1974), Jacob Milgrom,
Cult and Conscience: The
Asham and the Priestly Doctrine of Repentance
(Leiden, 1976), as well
as in Menahem H a ran ’s study o f
Temples and Temple-Service in
Ancient Israel
(Oxford, 1978). While archeological research is na t­
urally strongly cen tered in Israel, newer approaches to the an ­
cient world are deeply influenced by the general development in
the study o f religion which have advanced in the past decade in
America.1
MEDIEVAL JEW ISH HISTORY
Medieval Jewish history, an ill-defined period tha t stretches
from approximately the fourth century until the seventeenth, has
been the subject o f several major specialized studies in the period
unde r consideration. The monumental works o f the great senior
scholars Salo W. Baron and S.D. Goitein still dominate the litera­
ture o f this period as new volumes o f the ir histories continued to
appear in the 1970’s. Goitein’s meticulous and outstanding recon­
struction of Jewish life in the Islamic High Middle Ages was
enriched by the appearance o f
A Mediterranean Society, vol. II: the
Community
(Berkeley and Los Angeles, 1971) a n d ,4
Mediterranean
Society, vol. I ll: the Family
(Berkeley and Los Angeles, 1978). Both
works draw upon many decades o f Genizah research to produce a
vital portrait o f the mores, communal patterns o f leadership,
family relationships and a myriad o f little known details o f Jewish
life in the great u rban centers o f the Muslim world in medieval
times.
Serious readers o f Jewish history are regularly rewarded with
ano ther volume from the magnum opus o f Salo W. Baron,
A
Social and Religious History o f theJews
(New York and Philadelphia,
1 For a fuller analysis of the most recent writing in the field of religious studies see
“Research Needs in the Study of the Hebrew Bible and in the Study of Judaism”
by Richard D. Hecht, in
Bulletin of the Council on the Study of Religion,
vol. XI, 5,
December 1980.