Jewish Communal History in Geniza Scholarship: Part 1, From Early Beginnings to Goitein’s Magnum Opus
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Jewish communal organization has always been a major topic in Jewish historiography, not only because of its importance in the past, but also because of its continuing importance as a model for contemporary Jewish life. This essay traces the development of nineteenth- and twentieth-century scholarship on Jewish communal life from its beginnings in the early research conducted by the Wissenschaft scholars until Goitein’s works, which mark a distinctive watershed in the study of this theme. Its main arguments are that Jewish communal history was shaped by contemporary political and ideological questions and that it took a long and slow path toward integrating the Cairo Geniza materials as its main base of evidence.
KeywordsJewish historiography Jewish community Cairo Geniza Jerusalem school
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