Jewish Historians Could Stand to Borrow a Trick from the Greeks

Curiosity—the most extraordinary of Greek traits—is a better prescription for writing Jewish history than is trying to breathe into it a “Jewish spirit.”

An 1806 relief of the Greek historian Herodotus by Jean-Guillaume Moitte currently in the Louvre, Paris. Wikipedia.

An 1806 relief of the Greek historian Herodotus by Jean-Guillaume Moitte currently in the Louvre, Paris. Wikipedia.

Response
Aug. 20 2018
About the author

Hillel Halkin’s books include Yehuda HaleviAcross the Sabbath RiverMelisande: What are Dreams? (a novel), Jabotinsky: A Life (2014), and, most recently, After One-Hundred-and-Twenty (Princeton). 


I don’t see how one can say, as Eric Mechoulan does in “What is the Meaning of Jewish History?,” that “the very idea of history was a Jewish invention.” What Jews invented was the idea that history has a divine purpose. Apart from Israel’s relationship to God, and God’s relationship to other peoples as a means of punishing or rewarding Israel, the history of anyone or anything never interested the authors of the Bible or the rabbis in the least.

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More about: History & Ideas