The Study of Judaism
Authenticity, Identity, Scholarship
Publication Year: 2013
Published by: State University of New York Press
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Title Page, Copyright, Dedication
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This volume owes its genesis to a set of issues and methodologies supplied by my colleagues in the North American Association for the Study of Religion (NAASR). Often critical of the status quo, this organization’s raison d’être is the investigation of that which brings data constructed as “religious” into existence. The focus, in other words, is...
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In 2007 I published a slim and what I hoped would be a provocative volume entitled Situating Islam: The Past and Future of an Academic Discipline. This work functioned as a genealogical and analytic exploration of the study of the study of Islam. What, for example, are the various assumptions, ideological agendas, and political implications...
Chapter One: Authenticity, Identity, Scholarship
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In 1996 there erupted a controversy at Queens College in the City University of New York (CUNY). The dean of the college had just appointed Thomas Bird, a Russian and Yiddish literature professor, as the head of the interdisciplinary Jewish studies program. Although Bird was a scholar of Yiddish language and culture, and a longtime...
Chapter Two: Encountering Tradition: The Search for a Jewish Essence
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The previous chapter attempted to provide a general overview of some of the problems and possibilities associated with the modern academic encounter with Judaism. My principle concern, to reiterate, is with the interface between Judaism and religious studies, the larger unit in which the study of Judaism is customarily housed for...
Chapter Three: Imagining Judaism: Scholar, Community, Identity
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As witnessed in the previous chapter, scholars associated with Wissenschaft des Judentums saw it as their primary mandate to educate both Jews and non-Jews. They did this by demonstrating that Judaism possessed an essence, something that was both tangible and retrievable in the tradition’s rich historical and textual tradition. The great...
Chapter Four: Take Ancient Judaism for Example: Five Case Studies
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The previous chapter examined the complex relationship that has developed between Jewish studies and Jewish community, showing how the former over its long and convoluted history both mirrors and responds to the situation of the latter. The tensions inherent in this relationship are not simply of recent provenance, but have been...
Chapter Five: Private Foundations Encounter Judaism
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As witnessed in chapter 2, the academic study of Judaism began in earnest in Germany during the second half of the nineteenth century. There, a group of young Jews, influenced by the intellectual environment of an academy from which they were ultimately denied teaching positions, began for the first time to apply historical methods to Jewish...
Chapter Six: Future Prospects
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In this last chapter, I would like to move from Jewish studies’ past to its future, from what was to what might well be. The history of Jewish studies—caught up in the desire for emancipation, inclusion, and normalization—has left its indelible mark on the present. The previous five chapters have tried to understand and contextualize these desires...
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Page Count: 172
Publication Year: 2013