Page 86 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 7 (1948-1949)

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ALEXANDER MARX AT SEVENTY
By
J
acob
S.
M
i n k i n
A
MONG the small group of scholars whom the late Solomon
l Schechter succeeded in attracting to this country for the
reorganization of the Jewish Theological Seminary, Dr. Alexander
Marx was perhaps the most unique and interesting figure. He
was a tall, handsome young man of twenty-five, broad-shouldered
and athletic-looking, in appearance more the artist than the book-
man. His one year of service in the German army may have been
“ the most wasted time in my life” as he later deplored, but it
certainly took the stoop out of his shoulders for which Jewish
scholars, unfortunately, are notorious. For, at the age of seventy,
Dr. Marx still stands erect and vigorous, with his head thrown
back as he must have marched in the German drill parades.
Who would have believed forty-five years ago, when Dr. Marx
first arrived in this country, that this singularly attractive-looking
young man of aristocratic mien and features which might have
been chiseled by an idealistic sculptor would one day be the toast of
scholars and the creator and keeper of the greatest treasures of
Jewish wisdom and learning in the world? Certainly nothing he
had achieved until then had justified such expectations. There
was dignity and distinction in the youthful scholar fresh from the
universities of Berlin and Koenigsberg, but there was little to
inspire the confidence Dr. Schechter must have had in his future
scholarly career when he appointed him Professor of History and
Librarian of the newly reorganized Seminary. The only testimony
of scholarship Dr. Marx had brought with him to this country
was a thin little volume of 91 pages —
Seder Olam
, an early post-
biblical history of tannaitic origin, which he had translated and
edited on the basis of all available manuscripts with great care
and scientific accuracy, but still a far cry from the scholarly
attainments which the elevated position he was called upon to
occupy required.
A RENOWNED WORLD-SCHOLAR
That Dr. Schechter’s faith in the young scholar was fully
justified, that he even surpassed his expectations and those of
many others, and that at the age of seventy, after nearly half a
century of service to his institution and Jewish centers of learning
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