False Start: Jewish Studies at German Universities During the Weimar Republic
At the beginning of the 20th century German scholars doing cutting-edge research on the history of the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament became aware that Jewish scholars versed in traditional, rabbinical, Jewish lore had something to offer them. Though the Germans on their own had made great strides in the scientific study of biblical literature, they could not match the vast learning of certain Jewish specialists who carried on a centuries-old tradition of textual exegesis. This was especially true of New Testament scholars who had much to learn from Jewish expertise in first-century rabbinical literature. So began a gradual movement to incorporate Jewish studies into the curriculum and faculty of departments of Old and New Testament Studies at German universities.
Tragically, this new direction gained the most momentum during the Weimar Republic (1918-1933) on the eve of the catastrophe that would permanently sunder the German and Jewish communities.
Through meticulous research into the lives of the scholars who played a role in this convergence of German and Jewish scholarship, historian Henry Wassermann vividly brings back to life a forgotten chapter in modern history. In one respect it is a hopeful history, for there was a brief time before the Holocaust when it seemed that anti-Semitic discrimination was giving way to the interests of scholarship and the pursuit of truth. Yet, despite such progress, the history of suspicion and animosity between Jews and Christians often created obstacles. Wassermann shows that the new open approach to biblical studies proved to be a false start: for a variety of reasons, most of the Germans and Jews appointed to the new academic positions proved to be mediocre and their careers were undistinguished. Finally, Wassermann's history offers intriguing glimpses into the all-too-human side of academia: the gossiping and back-stabbing, the struggles for promotion, and departmental politics, aspects of academic life that are as true today as they were seventy-five years ago.
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academic anti-Semitic appeared Berlin Bialoblocki Biblia Hebraica binical Bonn Chassidism Christianity colleagues course Dalman desJudentums Deutsche Literaturzeitung devoted edition faculty of theology Fiebig Gerhard Kittel German universities Geschichte Giessen Mishna Gressmann Gulkowitsch Habilitation Hamburg Hebrew Bible Hermann L ibid Israel J. C. B. Mohr Jacob ben Chaim Jerusalem Jesus Jewish scholars Jewish students Jewish Studies Jewry Jews Judaism Kabala Kahan Kahle Kahle's Kohlhammer language Lazar Gulkowitsch lectures Leipoldt manuscript Marburg Masorah Masoretic mentioned MGWJ Midrash Mishna Mishna tractate Nazi Old Testament opinion Oriental Orientalistische Literaturzeitung Palestine pastor Paul Fiebig philology pointing position praised Professor Protestant theologians published Rabbi Dr Rabbi Prof rabbinical literature rabbinical seminary religion Rengstorf Rudolf Kittel scholarly scholarship Strack Studies at German submitted a dissertation summer semester Talmud teacher teaching Theologische Literaturzeitung Theologisches Literaturblatt tion translation Tubingen University Archives Weimar Republic Weinberg Windfuhr winter semester Wissenschaft des Judentums Woskin