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Classical Scholarship, Jews in


Contributions to classical scholarship began in the 19th century with the introduction of classical philology into institutions of higher Jewish learning, such as the Theological Seminary of Breslau (where J. *Bernays, J. *Freudenthal, and J. *Heinemann taught).

During the 19th century, the type of the gentleman scholar became increasingly rare even in England, and the full participation of Jews depended upon the possibility of making a living by teaching classics either in secondary schools or in universities. However, as gentlemen-scholars, Aby *Warburg founded in Hamburg his "Bibliothek" for the study of the classical tradition (now the Warburg Institute of the University of London) and James *Loeb founded the collection of classical texts with English translation (now administered by Harvard University); these two foundations made an immense difference to classical studies, especially in the English-speaking world.

Until 1933, Germany was the center of classical studies, and many Jews from all parts of the world received their training there. However, until 1919, German Jews were normally admitted to teaching only if baptized: such were Joseph Rubino (1799–1864), Gottfried Bernhardy (1780–1875), Karl Lehrs (Kaufmann; 1802–1878), Ludwig Fried laender (1824–1909), Friedrich Leo (1851–1914), Heinrich Otto *Hirschfeld (1843–1922), Eduard Norden (1868–1941), Felix Jacoby (1876–1958), and Friedrich Muenzer (1868–1943: he died in Theresienstadt). Franz Skutch (1865–1912) and Ludwig *Traube (1861–1907) are among the exceptions. The situation was only slightly different in the Austro-Hungarian empire, where, however, Theodor *Gomperz played a prominent part in Vienna, to be succeeded for a brief period by Emil Szanto (1857–1904). Consequently, there was an emigration of Jewish classical scholars educated in Austria and Germany to other countries, where they introduced German methods of scholarship – for instance Heinrich (Henri) Weil (1818–1909) in Paris; Emanuel *Loewy in Rome; E.A. Lowe (Loew; 1879–1969) in Oxford and later at the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton. This exodus of German-Jewish scholars after Hitler's rise to power in 1933 resulted in Great Britain and the United States replacing Germany as the creative centers of classical studies. To mention only a few names, Felix Jacoby, Paul Maas (1880–1964), Eduard *Fraenkel, Paul *Jacobsthal, David *Daube, and V.L. *Ehrenberg all settled in England, while Georg Karo (1872–1963), Paul Friedlaender (1882–1968), Hermann Fraenkel (1888– 1977), Ludwig Edelstein (1902–1965), Herbert *Bloch (1911– ) and G.M.A. *Hanfmann (1911–1986) emigrated to the United States. Jewish participation in classical studies had previously been weak in number (but not in quality) in Great Britain, where the great editor of Greek literary papyri Edgar Lobel (c. 1888–1982) and the influential Oxford ancient historian Hugh M. Last (1894–1957) were of Jewish descent. A more recent scholar dealing both with the Roman world as such and the Jews under their rule is Martin *Goodman (1953– ). Far more conspicuous had been the part played by American-born Jewish classical scholars, such as the latinist B.L. Ullman (1882–1965), the hellenist Harold *Cherniss (1904– 1987), the papyrologist Herbert *Youtie, and the ancient historian Moses I. Finley (Finkelstein; 1912–1986), from 1957 Fellow of Jesus College and from 1970 professor at Cambridge, England. Sarah B. Pomeroy, professor of classics at Hunter College in New York, wrote the highly acclaimed Goddesses, Whores, Wives, and Slaves: Women in Classical Antiquity (1975).

Next to Germany, the most original contributions by Jews to classical scholarship in Europe are to be found in France-the brothers Solomon and Théodore *Reinach, Gustave *Bloch, Gustave *Glotz, Henri *Levy-Bruhl, and Jacqueline Worms de Romilly (née David; 1913– ), the first woman classical scholar to be elected a professor at the Collège de France, 1973. In Italy, the Jewish participation has been especially strong in the field of ancient history, Roman law, and archaeology: Giacomo *Lumbroso (1844–1925: baptized late in life) was a pioneer in ancient social history; *Alessandro Della Seta (1879–1944) and Teodoro Levi (1898–?) directed the Italian Archaeological school at Athens and Mario Segre (1904–1944; died in Auschwitz) was an authority on Greek epigraphy. In Sweden, Ernst Nachmanson (1877–1943) was a leading hellenist; and in Hungary a baptized Jew, Andras Alföldi (1895–1981), was the most influential Roman historian before he emigrated to Switzerland and later to the Institute of Advanced Study at Princeton. In Russia, Solomon Lurie (1891–1964) was recognized as the greatest classical scholar, notwithstanding years of persecution. In Germany, after 1945, only one Jew, Kurte Latte (1891–1964), returned to an eminent position.

Classical scholarship has never been a "neutral" subject: it has involved questions of values about art, ethics, politics, and religion: and it particularly affects the understanding of Judaism in the critical stage accompanying the rise of Christianity. It is interesting that, in their formative years, bothKarl *Marx and Ferdinand *Lassalle devoted research to problems of Greek philosophy. To such diverse Jewish thinkers as Moses *Hess, Lev *Shestov, and Leo *Strauss, Rome or Athens have appeared antithetic to Jerusalem.

Concern with the confrontation between Judaism and Greco-Roman civilization is inevitable in all the historians of Judaism from I.M. *Jost to J. *Klausner, S. *Baron, and G. *Allon. It is also natural that Jewish scholars should take an interest in Jewish-Hellenistic literature, particularly in Philo, and in the history of the Jews under the Greco-Macedonians and Rome. One need only mention the masterly work by J. *Juster in Les Juifs dans L'Empire Romain (1914). Only a few scholars, however, have tried to arrive at a cross-fertilization of Jewish and classical subjects. Jacob Bernays was the pioneer, and more recent representatives of this approach are Eugen *Taeubler, Yoḥanan (Hans) *Lewy, and Elias *Biekerman. Bernays modeled himself on J. *Scaliger, while in later scholars the influence of Eduard *Meyer is evident. Bernays and his followers considered Jewish Hellenism to be a poor substitute for normative Judaism, whereas Bickerman tends to emphasize what Jews and Greeks had in common. He has in his turn inspired the work of other scholars, such as Morton *Smith and Martin Hengel, both non-Jews. An interest in Jewish-classical contacts is also to be found in certain classical scholars of Jewish origin, who do not otherwise claim any special preoccupation with the Jewish tradition, such as Eduard Norden and Richard Laqueur (1880–1959).

The greater part of Jewish contributions to classical scholarship in the 19th and 20th centuries does not bear distinctive marks, Jews merely following patterns of research current in their time and place. There are, however, some traits in the Jewish contribution to classical scholarship, seen as a whole, which do not seem to be fortuitous:

1. In Germany, scholars of Jewish origin turned with greater zeal and sympathy to the study of Latin literature, history, and law. This may partly be a matter of human relations. The latinists F. Ritschl and F. Buecheler, and especially the great master of Roman history, Th. *Mommsen, were readier than others to accept Jewish pupils. But in Germany the Greeks were treated as the ancestors of the modern Germans. Roman universalism attracted Jewish scholars (F. Leo, E. Norden, E. Fraenkel, O. Hirschfeld, A. *Stein, H. *Dessau, F. Muenzer, Arthur *Rosenberg, later a political leader and modern historian, etc.).

2. There is a definite inclination in Jewish scholars to follow up the classical tradition into the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. With A. Warburg, L. Traube, F. Saxl (1890–1948), F. Gundolf, Paul Maas, Hermann *Kantorowicz, and Ernst *Kantorowicz, this in fact became a recognized feature of German-Jewish Geistesgeschichte.

3. Jews have often been pioneers and, in any case, very active in the history of ancient sciences (philology, K. Lehrs; linguistics, H. *Steinthal; mathematics, M. Kantor; physics, S. *Sambursky; biology, C. *Singer; medicine, L. Edelstein, etc.).

4. Less characteristic, yet noticeable, is the special interest in Greek law (E. Szánto, G. Glotz, K. Latte, F. Pringsheim, H.-J. Wolff, etc.) and philosophy (Th. Gomperz, K. *Joel, R. *Mondolfo, Friedrieh Solmsen, etc.) as compared with the limited attention paid to Greek religion and even literature.

In variety and subtlety of research, probably no classical scholar of Jewish origin can be compared with E. Norden, a master in the study of ancient literary prose, Latin poetry, ethnography, forms of religious texts and, finally, of German-Roman and Jewish-Roman contacts. Yet the work of his life-long friend F. Jacoby as an editor, commentator, and expounder of Greek historiography ranks among the greatest achievements of classical scholarship of any time.

[Arnaldo Dante Momigliano]

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