Page 87 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 7 (1948-1949)

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75
MINKIN ----ALEXANDER MARX AT SEVENTY
all over the country, Prof. Marx is acclaimed as one of the re-
nowned world-scholars is due to his great learning, extraordinary
industry, and the grace and charm of his personality. Tested by
the most exacting academic standards, he has, as scholar, teacher,
bibliographer, and for his ability to get along with all classes of
men, won the love, gained the admiration, and secured the loyalty
and devotion of both scholars and laymen alike. He has not
only collected the greatest treasures of Jewish wisdom through
the ages under one roof; he has created an atmosphere for Jewish
scholarship, made the Jewish book a thing to be loved and revered,
and his library a mecca for students and scholars far beyond the
limits of his city, and even his country.
Directly and indirectly, by instruction and personal example,
Prof. Marx has trained a whole generation of Jewish scholars. He
trained them in the scientific method, historical approach, in
thoroughness, accuracy and precision. He also trained them in
the use of the tools of Jewish scholarship, in consulting early
editions, rare prints, unpublished manuscripts, and source ma-
terial. His standards are high, his demands severe and exacting;
he will accept nothing but what is motivated by the loftiest ideal
of scholarship. He is as critical towards himself as he is towards
others. He loathes nothing as much as half-knowledge, sham-
learning and dilettantism that masquerades in the guise of scholar-
ship. He is sober, judicious, and dispassionate, but also bold in
correcting errors of fact or judgment, no matter how sanctified
by age or authority. There is no finer index to this side of Prof.
Marx’ character, the moral core of the man, and his passionate,
almost religious worship of truth than his brief monograph,
Aims and Tasks of Jewish Historiography.
While he admires
Graetz and never ceases praising him for his great learning, the
beauty of his style, and his form of presentation, he nevertheless
does not conceal the historian’s passionate partisanship and his
u tter lack of comprehension of men, movements, and whole areas
of Jewish spiritual life outside the ken of his sympathy or under-
standing.
DEVOTION TO FACTS OF JEWISH HISTORY
I f there is one feature that may be said to characterize Prof.
Marx as scholar, teacher, and historian, it is his complete and utter
devotion to the facts of Jewish history — facts and not theories,
facts and not generalizations. Indeed, he mistrusts the so-called
philosophies of Jewish history. He writes without either severity
or enthusiasm, without excessive prejudice or volcanic passion,
but lets the facts tell their own story. Working under such a