By Robert Chazan
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Extra resources for Ajs Review, 1993, Part 1
Org THE HISTORIOGRAPHICALLEGACY OF SALO WITTMAYER BARON: THE MEDIEVAL PERIOD by ROBERT CHAZAN The impact of Salo Wittmayer Baron on the study of the history of the Jews during the Middle Ages has been enormous. This impact has, in part, been generated by Baron's voluminous writings, in particular his threevolume The Jewish Community and-even more so-his eighteen-volume Social and Religious History of the Jews. Equally decisive has been Baron's influence through his students and his students' students.
It was, in 10. Salo Wittmayer Baron, "The Israelite Population under the Kings" (Hebrew), Abhandlungen zur Erinnerungan Hirsch Perez Chayes (Vienna, 1933), pp. 76-136. 11. Baron, A Social and Religious History of the Jews, 4:89-9 1 and 147-149. This view of Baron's has met with limited acceptance, as the older notion of 1096 as a dramatic turning point continues to be presented more regularly. I attempted to argue the Baron view in some depth in the closing chapter of my European Jewry and the First Crusade (Berkeley, 1987).
29 But it was too late to undo the cumulative impact of the last ten volumes. The excessive attention to the final bloodstained centuries of the Middle Ages served to reaffirm the primacy of foreign affairs in Jewish life, to reduce Jews to objects of history and victims of persecution, and to make of Judaism a mirror image of external events--precisely the views that the first edition was designed to refute. In his resolve to shatter the insularity of Jewish scholarship, Baron produced ever larger chunks of straight nonJewish history interspersed with only an occasional stray Jewish fact.
Ajs Review, 1993, Part 1 by Robert Chazan