Page 42 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 46

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34
JEWISH BOOK ANNUAL
apologetic. The work as a whole takes for granted that Judaism
is a religion that retains its importance and vitality; while it
is, perhaps, pathetic that one even takes note of this, let alone
that one feels compelled to congratulate the editors for it, such
recognition (indeed, the recognition of all non-Christian reli­
gions as such) represents a major departure from the model
that prevailed from the beginning of religious studies (as a
branch of either Theology or Philosophy faculties) in the eigh­
teenth century, through, in many places, the Second World
War. This model assumed the obvious validity of Protestant
categorizations of the religious quest, and other religions (if they
were recognized as
religions
at all) were evaluated on the basis
of their supposed proximity or distance from these categories.
As it relates to Jews and Judaism, this line of thought runs
most directly from Kant (who denies that Judaism is a religion
at all) to Toynbee and a range of German scholars, including
the famous Emil Schiirer.1 Impelled by social, political and in­
tellectual forces, this “Protestanto-centrism” has become much
less respectable in recent years;
The Encyclopedia of Religion
is
very much the product of this major shift in the way Westerners
view the world, at least publicly, anyway.
TREATMENT OF JUDAISM
The centerpiece of the
Encyclopedia's
treatment of Judaism
is an eighty-page (two columns to a page) entry under the title
“Judaism.” This entry is described as “an overview of the origins
and development of the Jewish religious tradition and seven
historical surveys of Judaism in the major regions of the di­
aspora.” This entry is sub-divided into the following essays: “An
Overview”; “Judaism in the Middle East and North Africa to
1492”; “Judaism in the Middle East and North Africa Since
1492”; “Judaism in Asia and Northeast Africa”; “Judaism in
Southern Europe”; “Judaism in Northern and Eastern Europe
to 1500”; “Judaism in the Western Hemisphere.” In addition,
there is a substantial entry, “Rabbinic Judaism in Late Antiq­
uity,” which, for some reason, is not included within the larger
“Judaism” entry, and which provides the discussion of the de­
1 For a recent discussion o f some aspects o f this, see E.P. Sanders,
Paul and
Palestinian Judaism,
pp. 33-59 and passim.