2008 Volume 5

Editors: Bernard Jackson, Daniel R. Langton, Ephraim Nissan, and Renate Smithuis. 

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Buy the printed edition ISBN 978-1-4632-0184-5. 


1. Tobias Green, Equal Partners? Proselytising by Africans and Jews in the 17th Century Atlantic Diaspora Related maps: Caboverde and Peoples and Cultures

This paper examines the processes by which Africans proselytised Sephardic Jews on the coast of West Africa in the 16th and 17th centuries and were in their turn prosleytised by Jews both in West Africa and elsewhere in the Atlantic world in the early modern era. Drawing on a wide range of archival and published sources, it shows that these activities were far from unusual in the Atlantic world at the time, and are evidence of a world of receptivity and understanding that belies traditional interpretations of Atlantic history. Analysing the conditions which produced the atmosphere in which such mutual conversions could occur, the paper argues that a relatively equitable balance of power was central to this process. Personal knowledge and human experience were crucial in breaking down cultural barriers in a way which permitted conversion; however the wider economic forces which facilitated these exchanges were themselves distorting power relations, helping to shape Atlantic history on its more familiar, and intolerant, path. 

2. David Lincicum, An Index to Frey's Jewish Inscriptions in Recent New Editions

This index indicates which inscriptions in J.-B. Frey's Corpus Inscriptionum Iudaicarum (CIJ), long seen to be in need of revision, have been re-edited in the six excellent volumes of Jewish inscriptions published recently in two series by Cambridge University Press and Mohr Siebeck in Tübingen. Though each of these volumes has its own index to Frey's corpus, to combine them here may facilitate ease of reference, especially helpful in evaluating older works which make reference to inscriptions by Frey's numbers.

3. Daniel R. Langton, Some Comments on Micah Berdichevsky's Saul and Paul

Although Micah Berdichevsky (1865-1921), a giant of Hebrew literature, never completed his book-length study of the apostle Paul, his literary executors ensured that Saul and Paul was published in 1971. Like the better known study by Joseph Klausner, From Jesus to Paul (1939), Berdichevsky's work was a Zionist perspective on the founder of Gentile Christianity, written in Hebrew. Central to Saul and Paul is a mysterious document that Berdichevsky believed to be an ancient Jewish account of the conversion and missionary success of Paul, namely, the tale of the pagan priest, Abba Gulish. He went on to argue that Saul and Paul had been two different individuals, the one Jewish, the other pagan, and that Christian tradition had amalgamated them. Attributing historicity to a Hebrew legend rather than a Greek Christian one, Berdichevsky argued that Paulinism was an essentially pagan philosophical system. While many before and after him would find the seeds of Christianity in the Jewish Paul's adoption of non-Jewish, Hellenistic ideas, Berdichevsky went one step further and denied Paul even a Jewish birth. In addition to a comparison of Klausner and Berdichevsky's views of Paul, this short article includes the Hebrew text and translation of the story of Abba Gulish.

4. Dan Garner, The Nature of Ultra-Orthodox Responses to the Holocaust

This study examines the religious response to the Shoah of Rabbi Kalonymous Shapira, a Chasidic leader in the Warsaw Ghetto during the Second World War. The responses of the Ultra-Orthodox to the Holocaust have long been neglected and/or marginalized, only coming back into considered focus in more recent years. These responses were often associated with the idea of 'punishment for sin' in relation to theological justification of the Holocaust. Yet Shapira's response contains surprising elements concerning his attempt to understand theologically the unfolding sufferings through which he and his community lived (and died). These surprising tendencies can be characterized as 'atheodic' and 'antitheodic' in nature in that they evidence the relinquishing of the effort to justify and explain the suffering. Together these tendencies show Shapira's response to be both more complex and sensitive than Ultra-Orthodox thought has often been given credit for.

5. Giulia Miller, A Surrealist Reading: Formlessness and Non-Differentiation in Yitzhak Orpaz's The Hunting of the Gazelle (Tseyd ha-Tsviyah, 1966) A Cycle of Three Stories

This article offers a Surrealist reading of Yitzhak Orpaz's The Hunting of the Gazelle. It emerges from a larger project that attempts to define Hebrew Surrealism and which draws heavily upon the writings of Menashe Levin (1903-1981) and Yitzhak Oren (1918-2007) as well as those of Orpaz. The apparent absence of Surrealism in the history of Modern Hebrew literature illustrates why Levin, Oren and Orpaz are so important and why they stand out from their peers. While Orpaz's Surrealism is manifest in his three novellas 'The Death of Lysanda' (1964), 'Ants' (1968) and 'A Narrow Step' (1972), the fact that these texts have already received some critical attention has allowed the focus here to remain upon the lesser-known trilogy of short stories, The Hunting of the Gazelle. This trilogy is a unique example of Surrealism because it represents textually a sense of formlessness and nondifferentiation between subject and object. Following a close reading that examines in detail the ways in which this sense of formlessness is achieved, reference will be made to an interview recorded with Orpaz in which he describes the methods used to write the trilogy. These writing methods are reminiscent of automatism, a technique practiced and recommended by the pioneering French Surrealists of the twenties and thirties. In the interview, Orpaz vehemently rejected the notion of 'automatism' in his writing, preferring to describe it as 'controlled ecstasy.' Here it will be argued that Orpaz's 'controlled ecstasy' is nevertheless a type of automatism. The conclusion will show that a Surrealist reading of Orpaz's trilogy makes a useful contribution to ascertaining the nature and function of Hebrew Surrealism.