Article

The Narratives of Medieval Jewish History

Joseph Dan

in The Oxford Handbook of Jewish Studies

Published in print December 2004 | ISBN: 9780199280322
Published online September 2009 | | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/oxfordhb/9780199280322.013.0007

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Religion and Theology

 The Narratives of Medieval Jewish History

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It is surprising to realize that no historian of Judaism wrote a history of the Middle Ages in Jewish history. Between 1923 and 1926 a Jewish historian, Shlomo Bernfeld, wrote a three-volume historical work, consisting mainly of an anthology of sources, entitled Sefer ha-Demaot, ‘The Book of Tears’. These volumes present a history of the Middle Ages up to the ‘Age of Reason’, which the author hoped would be the beginning of a new age in which the fate of the Jews would be different, yet this hope, he states in the end of his work, seems to have been unfounded. This article examines such narratives: the way narratives shape the chronological boundaries of the Middle Ages; their consequences concerning the examination of the relationships between Jews and non-Jews in the medieval world; and the place of history of ideas in the descriptions of the Middle Ages.

Keywords: Judaism; Book of Tears; Middle Ages; Jews; Shlomo Bernfeld; Jewish history

Article.  5841 words. 

Subjects: Religion ; Judaism and Jewish Studies ; Religious Studies ; History of Religion

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