The Jewish Past Revisited


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Reflections on Modern Jewish Historians

Edited by David N. Myers and David B. Ruderman

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In this fascinating new collection of essays, contemporary historians examine the ways earlier historians have framed, written, and "made" the Jewish past. Probing the ideology and methodology of their professional predecessors, American and Israeli historians offer new perspectives on some of the central figures of twentieth-century Jewish historiography, including Gershom Scholem, S. D. Goitein, Yitzhak Baer, Elias Bickermann, and Cecil Roth, as well as the Israeli "New Historians." Although the lives and work of these scholars differ in many ways, Jewish historians have recurrently confronted the challenges posed by assimilation, antisemitism, and various forms of nationalism.

Through their critical examinations of the construction of the Jewish past, the contributors to this volume develop important insights into current attitudes toward the dominant canons and ideals of historical scholarship and the future of historiography. They shine new light on the formation of a historical worldview and the "making" of history.

David N. Myers is associate professor of history and director of the Center for Jewish Studies at the University of California, Los Angeles. David B. Ruderman is Joseph Meyerhoff Professor of Modern Jewish History and director of the Center for Judaic Studies at the University of Pennsylvania.

A selection of the Jewish Book Club

"This is a consistently original work on modern Jewish historiography. No other book has so fully addressed the role that the historian has played in shaping modern Jewish self-understanding."—David Ellenson, Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, Los Angeles

“Through their critical examinations of the construction of the Jewish past, the contributors develop insights into the current attitudes toward the ideals of historical scholarship and the future of historiography.”—Jewish Book World

"Professors Myers and Ruderman have edited an excellent volume analyzing how some of the giants of Jewish historical scholarship have reconstructed the Jewish narrative. The edited format allows for including a broad range of portraits of Jewish historians, including Gershom Scholem, the foremost expert on Jewish mystics, Cecil Roth, historian of Italian Jewry and the Renaissance, and Yitzhaz Baer, historian of the Jews in Christian Spain, among many others."—Stephen Bayme, Jewish Book World

"With little else available on the subject, this supplement to critical works on Jewish history makes a valuable addition to the shelves of academic libraries and specialized collections dealing with history, Jewish studies, Israeli and Middle Eastern affairs, and humanities in the broader sense of the term."—Library Journal

“Together these studies . . . provide a stimulating discussion of the Jewish past and its visitors. It is a valuable contribution to the ongoing debate on historical scholarship, construction of traditions, and the formation of modern Jewish identities.”—Nils Roemer, The Jewish Quarterly Review

ISBN: 9780300191530
Publication Date: November 1, 1998
256 pages, 6 x 9
The Stakes of History

On the Use and Abuse of Jewish History for Life

David N. Myers

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