Page 82 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 44

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JOHANN MAIER
Judaic Studies in the Federal
Republic of Germany: the Case of the
Martin Buber Institute
D
u r i n g
t h e
19
t h
and early 20th centuries there were people
who favored the establishment of an independent academic disci­
pline that would focus on Judaism within the philosophical facul­
ties of the German university system. What emerged, however,
was a number of renowned Jewish academic institutions outside
the universities. Together, they continued the pattern of what
was known as the
Wissenschaft desJudentums,
or Science ofJudaism
— “Jewish studies” for Jewish purposes. Within the universities,
the theological faculties were the primary ones concerned with
researching and teaching subjects related to Judaism. In particu­
lar, biblical scholars showed interest in the background of the
New Testament, but were rarely curious about the later periods
ofJewish history. Those involved in Christian theology within the
universities as well as those involved in the Science of Judaism
within Jewish institutions produced a remarkable amount of
scholarship. Still, it became apparent that both groups remained
distant from the more educated stratum of society, which, there­
fore, had no opportunity to share in the achievements of either
the Christian theological or Jewish researchers.
Further, a chasm remained in the German academic curricu­
lum regarding Judaism, whereas other cultures, literatures and
historical groups became subjects of new disciplines. The diffu­
sion of prejudice and of anti-Semitic propaganda was probably
facilitated by the vast ignorance o f Judaism within German
academia.
As nationalistic and racial criteria increasingly became com­
monplace in the universities, a logical result was the contention
that the study of Judaism was ajob for Jews, just as, for example,
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