Page 182 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 51

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174
JEWISH BOOK ANNUAL
He corresponded with learned Jews, was instrumental in the edi­
tion o f a rabbinical Bible, composed an essay on the Masorah,
another one on the Talmud, wrote a Hebrew grammar and a
Hebrew lexicon, composed a dictionary for the vocabulary o f
the
Talmudim
and the
Targumim
. . . He described the customs
of the synagogue and even made a sketch o f his Hebrew library
— the first act in the field o f Jewish bibliography!
(Gesammelte
Schriften,
vol. 1, p. 60)
The knowledge of Hebrew booklore and scholarly Jewish
achievements in general was greatly advanced by the famous
author of the
Bibliotheca Hebrea,
J. Chr. Wolf (died 1739). Zunz
wrote about him:
Everything in the Hebrew language, especially written by Jews
— also by converts — he desired to have in his library . . . He
discussed biblical lore, Apocrypha, versions, manuscripts and edi­
tions o f the Old Testament, Masorah, Hebrew grammar, Tar-
gum, Talmud, Cabbalah, typography, the anti-Jewish writers, ab­
breviations, names, Jewish-German epitaphs, etc. But the history
came out somewhat hollow. There was nothing there about the
connection or the inner structure o f the subject. The richness
o f the material notwithstanding — due mainly to the use of David
Oppenheimer’s library — the work o f Wolf was spiritually as
poor as that of Eisenmenger. But if one can forgive Wolf the
statistician for it, this is unforgivable for Eisenmenger, the psy­
chologist.
(Ibid.,
p. 53)
From among the other Christian scholars of Judaism Zunz
singled out for his displeasure the
History of the Jews
by Basnage
(died 1723) and
Entdecktes Judenthum
by Eisenmenger. O f
Basnage’s book he wrote that it was “a monument of malice
and vulgarity,” and of Eisenmenger’s — that it was a “hard,
incisive and hostile” book. Zunz concluded his survey as follows:
Thus, the Jews were served only the bitter fruits o f scholarship,
and the petty oppression of this had its roots in the learnedness
o f narrow minds.
(Ibid.,
p. 52)
Zunz divided the centuries from Ezra to his own time into
nine time units. The last one he opened with Mendelssohn, and
continued to the present. During that time, he wrote:
A new young energy o f the national literature broke new paths.
The character, content, expression and language changed.
Poetry, the study of languages, literary criticism, theories of Jew­