While rejecting the traditional belief that Jewish fate was controlled by God, nineteenth- and early twentieth-century historians of the Jews maintained prior perceptions of post-70 Jewish history as a sequence of unmitigated disasters. Beginning in 1928, the young Salo Baron combatted this perspective on the Jewish past, which he dubbed “the lachrymose conception of Jewish history.” In his well-known 1928 essay “Ghetto and Emancipation” and more substantially in the 1937 edition of his Social and Religious History of the Jews , Baron vigorously rejected this view. In the process, he formulated a new periodization of the Jewish past and moved beyond the ideologically grounded and programmatic reconstruction of Jewish history to a rigorously descriptive portrayal of the multi-faceted Jewish historical experience. In so doing, Baron laid the foundations of the flourishing contemporary Jewish historiographic enterprise.
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AJS Review, 2015, Vol.39(1), pp.27-47
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