The modern concept of the Abrahamic religions has roots in Christian theology, the academic study of the Near East, and the study of Islam. In the nineteenth century, Protestant theologians built on the idea of the ‘Abrahamic covenant’ in developing the idea of a spiritual connection among Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. At the same time, students of the Near East understood the three religious traditions as sharing a common genealogical bond. Such recognition was enhanced by Islam’s own sense of the religion of Abraham, which was communicated to a broader public by western Islamicists. Although the concept of the Abrahamic religions does not preclude the privileging of one religion over the others, it has provided both scholars and laypeople with a useful way of exploring the common ground of the three faiths.
American Jewish history as a field of scholarly inquiry takes as its subject-matter the experience of Jews in the United States and places it within the context of both modern Jewish history and the history of the United States. Its practitioners see their intellectual project as inextricably connected to both histories. At the beginning of the twenty-first century the enterprise of American Jewish history enjoys a condition of robust health. By the 1990s American immigration history had generally declined in favour within the ranks of American historians. That Jews, outsiders to American culture upon their arrival in the United States, were able to penetrate barriers and enter the mainstream clashes with the way historians want to see the American past. As a group who craved both economic security and respectability, their story lacks the dramatic punch of resisters and rebels to the American ethos.
Thinking about American Jews, race, and religion entails confronting the instability of those terms. This chapter examines the history of Jews and race in the United States through three lenses. First, it looks at the history of how Eastern European Jews have been “raced” in America, and in particular how they became “white.” Second, it considers Jewish interactions with other groups, such as blacks, Native Americans, and Asians, and how Jewish identity has been co-constituted with and against that of other groups. Third, the chapter looks at internal Jewish diversity and the challenges presented by Euro-centric models of Jewishness. The chapter concludes by considering Jews, race, and religion in the age of Ferguson.
This article examines the misuse of biblical texts in order to underpin the ideology of an ‘Aryan’ or ‘German Christendom’. Seen against the backdrop of anti-Semitic ideologies, it asks to what extent were biblical texts of the Old and New Testament misused in order to uphold anti-Semitic ideas or within the framework of anti-Semitic propaganda? The focus is on typical, regularly appearing motifs, which can be encountered in anti-Semitically motivated exegesis, especially in the National Socialist milieu. The same exegesis reappears — fatally enough — in the form of stereotypically reiterated statements among authors who can by no means be reproached with an anti-Jewish or anti-Semitic mindset. The case becomes even more precarious once said stereotypes catch on in wide circles of the church and society — to break through them after their acceptance involves an immense struggle and strain.
Michael J. Gilmour
Few contemporary artists have endured so long, reinvented themselves so frequently and successfully (folk, rock, country, gospel music), and contributed in such diverse media (music, film, poetry, prose, sketches) as Bob Dylan. What is more, there may be no other artist of the 20th and 21st centuries with such an unusual list of significant honours: Grammy Awards; an Academy Award (2000); a Polar Music Prize (2000); a Kennedy Center Honour (1997); honorary doctorates (Princeton University; St Andrew's University); nominations for the Nobel Prize for Literature; and a Pulitzer Prize Special Citation (2008), among them. In addition to this impressive list, Bob Dylan's music and writing is often the subject of serious academic analysis from a variety of disciplinary perspectives, including literary, cultural, religious, and music studies. This article argues that the use of the Bible in the songs and other art forms that comprise the Bob Dylan canon defies simplistic systematization and containment within categories. Dylan's art is idiosyncratic, involves constant blending and bending of his sources, and is often inconsistent; a biblical image or phrase used one way in one time and place may appear quite different in another.
Sergio Della Pergola
The scientific study of the Jewish population, also known as demography of the Jews or Jewish demography, does not actually claim the status of a distinct discipline. It is an area of specialization focusing on the changing size and composition of Jewish populations and on the determinants and consequences of such changes. This article outlines some of the main concepts, interpretative frameworks, and methodological issues in the field, followed by a short outline of substantive patterns and applied uses of available knowledge. The main scientific rationale for the study of Jewish populations rests with the growing interest in understanding the demography of religious, ethnic, and cultural groups and minorities. Demographic changes provide an important and occasionally indispensable background for an appraisal of Jewish history and cultural experience. Hence, the study of Jewish demography is organically tied to the development of Jewish studies.
This article discusses how the study of the history, literature, and religious beliefs and practices of ancient Jews in the Land of Israel and the Diaspora provides the proper background and context for the study of the later books of the Hebrew Bible, the Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha, and the New Testament writings. From the time of the Babylonian exile, and especially from Hellenistic times onwards, a vibrant Jewish Diaspora existed alongside the Jewish community in the Land of Israel. During the time of the Second Temple (520
David M. Freidenreich
This survey of Jewish, Christian, and Islamic dietary law finds no recognition within pre-modern sources of the biblical or familial affinities implied by the contemporary term Abrahamic. The profound diversity of norms regarding animal species, blood, meat and dairy, and alcohol demonstrates that it is misleading to focus on the fact that Judaism, Christianity, and Islam are rooted in a common scripture. Pre-modern sources about the food of religious foreigners, moreover, do not express a sense of Abrahamic kinship among Jews, Christians, and Muslims. These sources instead employ classificatory methods that reinforce ideas particular to each tradition’s approach to claiming superiority over foreigners. The term Abrahamic offers a convenient label for the juxtaposition of Jewish, Christian, and Islamic sources that bypasses the diverse and ideologically driven categories native to these traditions; the more one focuses on the term’s meaning, however, the less useful it becomes.
This article notes that the study of the modern history of East European Jews is not a field driven at present by deep conceptual or ideological divides or abiding scholarly or methodological controversies. The past debates on this score between Israeli and diaspora Jewish scholarship have all but disappeared, as has even more dramatically the attempt at a Marxist version of juedische Wissenschaft. While the major works of the founders of the field from Simon Dubnov on ought to be studied and the impressive resurgence of interest in the history and culture of East European Jewry in the modern age is underway, the work is still largely undone. The crucial challenge to the field is not to succumb to the lachrymose and romanticized stereotypes of Jewish life in Eastern Europe while continuing to explore the history of this the largest Jewry in the world before the Holocaust.
This article examines Holocaust education, which now takes place across continents and grade-levels and through diverse programs and pedagogies. It argues that research about these efforts and their effects has been underdeveloped, partly because the approaches, objectives, and challenges of Holocaust education necessarily reflect cultural and national differences. While taking these into account, the recurrent themes and practices in Holocaust pedagogy are explored, identifying what is underscored and underplayed. The discussion stresses that the currently predominant context for Holocaust education is the repeated threat of genocidal violence. How Holocaust education and research about it can foster a sense of global citizenship is examined.
This article argues that the Holocaust took place within a distinct normative vision of Europe as a privileged embodiment of certain values, namely the Nazis' authoritarian and antisemitic ‘New European Order’. While postwar European integration was justified with regard to national conflict in the past, the memory of the Holocaust played virtually no role in the initial construction of the European Community. Even when there was increasing awareness of the Judeocide after the 1960s and 1970s, especially in the United States and Germany, neither individual European countries — with the obvious exception of the Federal Republic — nor the European Community as a whole felt compelled to define themselves in relation to it, let alone address their complicity in it. However, this state of affairs changed markedly in the 1990s: partly because of the end of the Cold War, transnational political pressures, and a new emphasis on self-critical memorialization as a mode of legitimacy, European countries confronted their roles in the Holocaust directly and to such an extent that some scholars in fact have begun to speak of a ‘Europeanization of the Holocaust’.
This article describes conceptions of the early modern period in Jewish historiography, the Italian Renaissance, intellectual history, the Jews of Central Europe in the early modern period, the Sephardic diaspora in Western Europe, and messianism. Classical Jewish historiography depicted a sharp break between medieval and modern patterns, the movements of transformation seeming to emerge virtually out of nothing. Cecil Roth's The Jews in the Renaissance introduced Jewish historians to the riches of Jewish life in this multifaceted world. Jewish intellectual history in the early modern period is characterized by successful attempts to cross traditional disciplinary boundaries. The expulsion of the Jews from Spain in 1492 and from Portugal in 1497 had a profound impact on the life of Western European Jews, even beyond that on Iberian Jewry itself. Meanwhile, the messianic movement of Sabbatai Zevi reverberated strongly through the Jewish historiography of the early modern period.
Scott M. Langston
The questions scholars are raising in regard to the biblical text are changing. With increasing frequency biblical scholars are asking, ‘What does the Bible do’?, in recognition that the Bible's impact on individuals, societies, and cultures (and vice-versa) is an important part of understanding the Bible holistically. Unquestionably, understanding a text's inception and formation remains at the heart of biblical studies, but the move to study its wider impact promises to engage a larger number of fields and practitioners and broaden the horizons of biblical scholars. As part of this holistic focus Exodus has proven especially fertile, particularly as a paradigm for critiquing, challenging, and/or overthrowing systems and groups deemed to be oppressive. Interacting with a variety of outside factors, the biblical text has proven flexible enough to accommodate a multitude of distinctions, visions, and solutions.
Harriet A. Harris
Protestant fundamentalists regard the Bible as foundational for faith, and believe that if the Bible were found to be flawed, Christianity would collapse. They therefore also feel concerned at the prospect of more than one meaning to a biblical passage, for their foundation would then seem more like shifting sand than solid rock. Since the late 1970s, so-called fundamentalist movements have been identified across the world's faiths. The term ‘fundamentalism’ has now become so elastic that a core definition is difficult to retain. Within Protestant fundamentalism, notions of biblical authority must be understood in relation to the foundational status given to Scripture. Other religious resurgent movements around the world are foundationalist in some respect, and many select and absolutize particular interpretations of particular texts. This article analyzes fundamentalism as biblical or textual foundationalism to help illuminate points of comparison and contrast across the fundamentalisms of the world.
This article examines the Holocaust's impact on postwar German politics, identity, and international conduct. It shows that a distinctive form of memory of the Holocaust arose in Germany following World War II as a byproduct of total military defeat, Allied occupation, and the restoration of previously suppressed German political traditions. In East Germany, the memory of the suffering and triumph of the Soviet Union loomed far larger in ‘anti-fascist’ political culture than the fate of Europe's Jews. The limits of justice and memory in the two Germanys after 1945 are striking in view of the enormity of the crime of the Holocaust. However, compared with the amnesia and paucity of justice that often have followed other criminal dictatorships, the West German and then unified German confrontation with the crimes of the Nazi era have yielded a distinctive mixture of some truth telling, some judicial reckoning, some excellent historical scholarship, and some compassion for the survivors of the Holocaust.
Martin C. Dean
The Germans created more than 140 ghettos in the Polish territories incorporated into the Reich, approximately 380 in the General Government, and more than 600 in other occupied territories. This article explores the similarities and differences that characterized this ghastly and still incompletely researched aspect of the Holocaust. It discusses patterns of ghettoization, policies and procedures in occupied Poland, and foreboding and resistance among ghettoized Jews.
This article surveys the concept and reality of ‘Greater Germany’. After World War I, the idea of bringing all European Germans together in a single political entity was shared by many people, including Hitler. This ‘folkish’ project entailed the expulsion of the Jews, but detailed directives from above for anti-Jewish policy were lacking when the Nazis first came to power in 1933, so central, regional, and local administrations enjoyed enormous freedom of action. Many mayors and city officials, both National Socialists and non-Party members among them, introduced measures excluding Jews from public facilities. Often extending beyond the few new national anti-Jewish laws, such actions, coordinated by the German Council of Municipalities, were tolerated by the Nazi government. This controlled decentralization of anti-Jewish policy dominated until 1938, when the annexation of Austria prompted a centralization of persecution and the increasing likelihood of war fostered radical new ideas, such as ghettoization and forced labour. Municipalities carried out the former, and the ministerial bureaucracy the latter, as well as the deportations of 1941–1943 that allowed Hitler and his government to realize, if only briefly, their Pan-German dream.
This article presents a narrative history of the Jews between the destruction of the Second Temple (70
Established in 1948, three years after the defeat of Nazi Germany, the State of Israel remains intrinsically connected to the Holocaust. It influences cultural norms, education, and political decision making. Neither the outlooks of Israelis nor the policies of the state can be understood without regard to the central role that the Holocaust plays in Israel's life. This article explores this pervasive impact on the State of Israel, whose existence has depended significantly on survivors and memories of the Nazi genocide against the Jewish people.
Lester L. Grabbe
This article discusses Jewish history from the rise of Hellenism to 70