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'The Invention of The Jewish People'

Discussion in 'International Forum' started by X-PASTER, Oct 27, 2009.


    X-PASTER Moderator

    Oct 27, 2009
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    Book review of Shlomo Sand's 'The Invention of the Jewish People', its implications for Israel.


    There Is No Jewish History

    It is an established fact that not a single Jewish history text had been written between the 1st century and early 19th century. The fact that Judaism is based on a religious historical myth may have something to do with it. An adequate scrutiny of the Jewish past was never a primary concern within the Rabbinical tradition. One of the reasons is probably the lack of a need of such a methodical effort. For the Jew who lived during ancient times and the Middle Ages, there was enough in the Bible to answer most relevant questions having to do with day-to-day life, Jewish meaning and fate. As Shlomo Sand puts it, “a secular chronological time was foreign to the ‘Diaspora time’ that was shaped by the anticipation for the coming of the Messiah”.

    However, in the light of German secularisation, urbanisation and emancipation and due to the decreasing authority of the Rabbinical leaders, an emerging need of an alternative cause rose amongst the awakening Jewish intellectuals. The emancipated Jew wondered who he was, where he come from. He also started to speculate what his role might be within the rapidly opening European society.

    In 1820 the German Jewish historian Isaak Markus Jost (1793-1860) published the first serious historical work on Jews, namely “The History of the Israelites”. Jost avoided the Biblical time, he preferred to start his journey with the Judea Kingdom, he also compiled an historical narrative of different Jewish communities around the world. Jost realised that the Jews of his time did not form an ethnic continuum. He grasped that Israelites from place to place were rather different. Hence, he thought there was nothing in the world that should stop Jews from total assimilation. Jost believed that within the spirit of enlightenment, both the Germans and the Jews would turn their back to the oppressive religious institution and would form a healthy nation based on a growing geographically orientated sense of belonging.... Rea More