Chapters on Jewish Literature eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 153 pages of information about Chapters on Jewish Literature.



Graetz.—­History of the Jews, English translation,
  Vol.  II, chapters 13-17 (character of the Mishnah, end of ch. 17).

Steinschneider.—­Jewish Literature (London, 1857), p. 13.

Schiller-Szinessy.—­Encyclopedia Britannica (Ninth Edition),
  Vol.  XVI, p. 502.

De Sola and Raphall.—­Eighteen Tractates from the Mishnah
  (English translation, London).

C. Taylor.—­Sayings of the Jewish Fathers (Cambridge, 1897).

A. Kohut.—­The Ethics of the Fathers (New York, 1885).

G. Karpeles.—­A Sketch of Jewish History (Jewish Publication
  Society of America, 1895), p. 40.


F.C.  Burkitt.—­Jewish Quarterly Review, Vol.  X, p. 207.



Great national crises usually produce an historical literature.  This is more likely to happen with the nation that wins in a war than with the nation that loses.  Thus, in the Maccabean period, historical works dealing with the glorious struggle and its triumphant termination were written by Jews both in Hebrew and in Greek.  After the terrible misfortune which befell the Jews in the year 70, when Jerusalem sank before the Roman arms never to rise again, little heart was there for writing history.  Jews sought solace in their existing literature rather than in new productions, and the Bible and the oral traditions that were to crystallize a century later into the Mishnah filled the national heart and mind.  Yet more than one Jew felt an impulse to write the history of the dismal time.  Thus the first complete books which appeared in Jewish literature after the loss of nationality were historical works written by two men, Justus and Josephus, both of whom bore an active part in the most recent of the wars which they recorded.  Justus of Tiberias wrote in Greek a terse chronicle entitled, “History of the Jewish Kings,” and also a more detailed narrative of the “Jewish War” with Rome.  Both these books are known to us only from quotations.  The originals are entirely lost.  A happier fate has preserved the works of another Jewish historian of the same period, Flavius Josephus (38 to 95 C.E.), the literary and political opponent of Justus.  He wrote three histories:  “Antiquities of the Jews”; an “Autobiography”; “The Wars of the Jews”; together with a reply to the attacks of an Alexandrian critic of Judaism, “Against Apion.”  The character of Josephus has been variously estimated.  Some regard him as a patriot, who yielded to Rome only when convinced that Jewish destiny required such submission.  But the most probable view of his career is as follows.  Josephus was a man of taste and learning.  He was a student of the Greek and Latin classics, which

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