Page 31 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 44

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land and deplored the fact that there was “not even one good
book on the knowledge of the land and its antiquities.” Much had
been written on Eretz-Israel — articles, stories, polemics, etc., but
a full history was still a desideratum. Fifteen years had ensued
since the rise of the Hibbat Zion movement and still no one had
undertaken this vital task. The lack of a Hebrew Palestinography
stood in sharp contrast to the wealth of material produced in the
various European languages.1
It should be noted that Ahad Ha’am did not believe that Luncz
should fulfill the lack by translating any available authoritative
work but encouraged him to write an original one. To his mind, a
national Jew had perforce different views on the history of the
land from those of Christian scholars. At the same time he did not
desire to see a propagandistic work with an ideological bias, but
sought to apply to it the same standards that must govern Jewish
research generally. In other words, the work should be fully
authoritative and yet a popular new and comprehensive one
which would cover the “knowledge of the land in all its aspects in
a scientific manner.” Ahad Ha’am was not troubled over the state
of the research and believed a work was to be judged by its plan
(or historical program) and not necessarily by its capacity to be
“complete” and “correct” in every fact and detail. He still thought
perhaps that a single author could produce such a work. A dec­
ade previously, it was Graetz who, with a greater appreciation of
the difficulties, asserted that only a Jewish academy could under­
take the necessary research in the fields of Bible, Palestine geo­
graphy and biblical archaeology in all their ramifications (in
Monatschrift fu r Geschichte und Wissenschafts des Judentums,
xxxvi, 1887).
The Hebrew works which appeared on Eretz-Israel during the
following years were chiefly translations; research works
but not
research works. After reviewing the work
of Luncz, Abraham Samuel Hirschberg, the early Zionist, wrote
in his
In the Land of the East
(Hebrew, Vilna, 1910; Jerusalem,
1977), that “none among our people to whom such research
1 Much o f this literature, including the thirty-one volumes o f
has been photographically reproduced by G. Olms, Hildesheim, W. Germany.