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The Jewish Encyclopedia, Vol. I. (Punk and Wagnalls Co.) 

The first volume of The Jewish Encyclopedia lies before us. The 
outcome of an age of systematization and co-operation, its appearance 
is a distinct event in the history of letters. One regards its publica- 
tion with feelings of gratitude and admiration. Gratitude towards 
the publishers whose public-spiritednesa made the issuing of the 
work possible ; admiration for the manner in which it has been pro- 
duced under the direction of the able projector, Dr. Isidore Singer, 
and his band of four hundred scholars and specialists. 

The magnificence of the complete structure can easily be gauged 
by the excellence of the portion now in our possession. It will be 
a worthy Temple set up to the genius of Jewish Science and Jewish 
Thought, into whose courts, far from the coarse clamour of the 
market-place, all may come, and, conning the rich page of Israel's 
history, may get for themselves knowledge unbiassed and broad 
sympathy. We have everything to gain and nothing to lose by 
this new " Revelation." Or rather it might be as true to say that 
we have everything to lose — our unequal share of the world's mis- 
judgment ; and others have everything to gain — true insight, a 
larger knowledge, liberal-mindedness. But then such loss being 
another's gain, is, ethically, a gain too— so we can well afford it. 

The work — need it be said ? — comes from that land of big enter- 
prises and big successes, America. Right royally is the New World 
repaying the Old for discovering it. And for this last guerdon it 
holds the world its debtor indeed. 

The scope of the work can be outlined by a brief statement of the 
departments in its purview. The subject-matter falls into three 
main divisions, which again branch out into subdivisions. They 
are (1) History, Biography, Sociology, and Folk-lore ; (2) Litera- 
ture — Biblical, Hellenistic, Talmudical, Rabbinical, Mediaeval, and 
Neo-Hebraic ; (3) Theology and Philosophy ; each department being 



under the control of an editor responsible for the accuracy and 
comprehensiveness of the articles in his province. 

The prospectus of the Historical and Biographical division promises 
much in the way of detail, and in the way of rescuing from oblivion 
those worthies who have, by word or deed, contributed to the general 
commonweal ; and in this, the first volume, these promises have 
begun to be redeemed right honourably. Jews by race, Jews by 
conviction, Jews by predilection — all will be included, and rightly 
so, if we really desire to get a true conspectus of Israel's ramifications. 

Obviously The Jewish Encyclopedia is a dictionary of the Bible, 
but it is something more than this, inasmuch as it deals not with 
a part of Jewish History, but with the whole. In the domain of 
Literature no attempt has been made to compete with tbe Bible 
Dictionaries of Hastings and Cheyne ; but these, in many ways and 
many places, by sudden side-lights, are supplemented by such a 
work as this, even in their own special departments, for it is the 
superior vantage-point that gives a wider outlook. The plan has 
been adopted of treating the more important Biblical articles under 
three heads, under the first of which are ranged the Biblical data, 
giving the plain statement of the text; under the second, we have 
the Rabbinical interpretation, including that of the Talmud and 
Midrash ; the third division presents the critical view. Thus the 
Encyclopedia strives to keep abreast of the latest explorations in 
the fields of Assyriology, Egyptology and in general archaeological 

The Talmud, of course, will receive treatment commensurate with 
its importance, and the Rabbis of the Talmud, the Tannaim and 
Amoraim, many of them epoch-making in virtue of their work or 
personality, will each have a niche in this Temple of Fame. In 
connexion too with this subject the course of later Rabbinical Litera- 
ture will be traced for the fourteen hundred years (500-1900) of 
its run. And lastly the History of the Jewish Literature will be 
set forth in all its multifariousness. 

The third division of Theology and Philosophy will include a 
systematic presentation of Rabbinical Judaism in regard to Jewish 
beliefs and doctrine. 

And, finally, the Encyclopedia will deal in an exhaustive manner 
with the subject of Anthropology, under which section will fall the 
evidence relating to purity of race, special aptitudes, susceptibility 
to disease, &c, &c. 

This in short is a summary, and summary at that, of the task the 
Editors have set before themselves. High as the ideal is, this first 
volume makes us confident that it will be successfully attained. 


It is not surprising that an undertaking of this kind should prove 
so fascinating both to the professed student, or professional, and to 
the general reader. The Jew stands as a link between the ancient 
world and the modern. Present at the launching of the oldest 
civilizations he voyaged with them for many a weary year, if not 
actually as pilot, often as one of the crew ; and he has lived to see 
them swept away on the floods of time. If the knowledge of the 
centuries points to any one truth, it points to the transitoriness of 
all things, the ebb and flow in the affairs of mankind. 

And throughout all these vicissitudes, the Jew, while not un- 
responsive to the influences that pulsated about him, has preserved 
the continuity of his traditions, and the purity of his ideals. It is 
a strange history that is here unfolded, now rolling majestic under 
Babylonian or Egyptian skies ; now sunning itself gloriously as it 
winds through the fields of Old Castile ; now wasted and scanty as it 
spreads itself over the sandy soil of oppression and repression. Such 
story as this must grip one strongly ; and as one reads, mind and 
soul yield unreservedly to the all-compelling charm. It will give 
the reader a heart of understanding, enabling him to grasp aright 
something of the significance of Israel's wanderings ; to rub off the 
grime and unlovely lettering of this human palimpsest, and to 
read beneath all of it the majestic drama of a nation's history. We 
shall see how the Jew has pushed onward the vehicle of the world's 
progress ; how the light of his genius has played upon the fields of 
Art, and Science, and Literature, in many and many a land. With 
this work as our spell, Israel the Sphinx will be made to speak some 
of its most precious secrets. 

And now to examine our treasure a little more closely. It is a 
handsome volume, its print clear and pleasant, and its illustrations 
numerous and really elucidatory of the text. And more ; we shall 
find, if we test it, that the work exactly fits that empty space which 
somehow gapes from the shelves of every library however well 
furnished — the vacant chair, so to say, at the Symposium of Letters ! 
Let us turn, say, to the article "Adam." Under this heading we 
have, first of all, a statement of all the Biblical data. Then follows 
an account of the name in Apocryphal and Rabbinical Literature, 
comprising a most interesting survey of the sources of the Midrashic 
conception, by Dr. Kohler; Prof. Gottheil then takes up the story 
and discourses pleasantly of Adam in Mohammedan Literature. 
Lastly, we have a summary of the critical view, in which the generic 
use of the word in contradistinction to the use of it as the name of 
an individual is well brought out. Then succeed articles on the 
Book of Adam, and Adam Kadmon or Kadmoni, both of them 

C C a 


crammed with information. It should be added that a Bibliography 
is appended to each article— a very valuable consideration. 

The same care characterizes the subject "Akiba b. Joseph": 
Palestinian Tanna. His parentage and youth are lucidly narrated, 
his remarkable life is then set forth, bringing out his relation with 
Bar Cochba in the sad times in which his lot was cast. Akiba as 
Systematizer, his Halacha, his Hermeneutic System, his Religious 
Philosophy— these are but headings, but they show sufficiently the 
trend of the rest of the article. To round off the whole we have, 
lastly, an account of the various legends that have clustered round 
the Martyr's memory. 

The important subject of Angelology is especially well treated. The 
Biblical conception of these celestial beings is traced step by step ; 
their denomination, their appearance, their function— all are here 
set forth. The second part of the article occupies itself with Angels 
in Talmudic and Midrashic Literature. We have a succinct account of 
the development of the angel-idea, of the angelic embellishment of 
the Bible story, and of the nomenclature and variety of angelic 
forms. "Angels and the Cabala" and "Angels and Mysticism" 
conclude this division of the subject. At this point Dr. Kohler 
continues the task. He outlines for us the general historical de- 
velopment of this subject of Angelology, and shows us how the 
circumstances of Israel's environment in Persia and Babylonia com- 
bined to make complex and cumbersome the simple conception of 
the Divine Messenger found in earlier Biblical writings. Thus 
Angelology tended towards systematization, and so we find that it is 
in the Book of Daniel that a systematic classification of angels is first 
presented. And Daniel led the way for the establishment of a 
hierarchy of vast proportions. Then follows a mass of information 
in regard to some of these hierarchical systems, with an account of 
the powers of individual angels, as instructors, as mediators between 
God and man, as guardians of the nations. Finally, we are presented 
with the views of Philo on Angels, of Saadya Gaon, of Judah Ha'Levi, 
of Ibn Daud and Maimonides. A brief statement of the Mohammedan 
position, which seems to trench both on Jewish and Gnostic ground> 
brings us to the end of this engrossing subject. 

But let this suffice. The more the work is examined the indispen- 
sableness of it becomes more and more evident, and the wonder grows 
that its success should have ever been questioned. It is just the 
work required for the completion of every library and the equipment 
of every student. Such a bringing together the latest results of 
Jewish scholarship in the domain of Jewish lore is a notable achieve- 
ment indeed. The effect of it— who shall deny?— will be as im- 


portant as widespread, culminating in a real revival of Jewish 

It is ungracious to find fault with the well from which we have 
just slaked our thirst, but it is impossible to resist expressing the 
regret that in a work presenting the imperial proportions, as it were, 
we have endeavoured to draw, there should have been included names 
of those whose work lies rather before them than after. We have 
said the worst ; and it may be that this little spot but serves, 
after all, to bring out the extreme fairness of the rest of the page. 

Concluding, we can but re-echo the words of the writer who has 
said : " Christianity will learn from it to understand Judaism and 
to respect Jews. Jews will learn from it to understand and respect 

H. Snowman. 


A Dictionary of the Dialects of Vernacular Syriac, as spoken by the 
Eastern Syrians of Kurdistan, North-West Persia, and the Plain 
of Mosul, with illustrations from the dialects of the Jews of 
Zakhu and Azerbaijan, and of the Western Syrians of Tur 
'Abdin and Ma'lula, by Arthur John Maclean, M.A., P.R.G.S., 
Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1891, 4to, pp. xxiii and 334. 

More than thirty years ago Prof. Noeldeke expressed the hope that 
a dictionary of modern Syriac dialects would be compiled from 
materials gathered among the Nestorian population east of the 
Tigris without regard to the classical language, and that in so doing 
special attention might be paid to the vernacular of the Jews living 
in the district. Since then much valuable linguistic research has 
been accomplished in this field, both in the publication of texts and 
their utilization for grammatical purposes. The great vitality of this 
group of dialects is illustrated by the fact, that amidst a population 
of different creed and languages it not only held its own but pene- 
trated further east, supplanting a tongue spoken of old in these 
territories. Geographically speaking, the dialects in question form 
the vernacular of many villages situated in a large triangle, com- 
prising the Plain of Mosul, Lake Van and the Urmiah lake. Even 
a comparatively short examination will reveal the fact that these 
dialects are distinctly different from classical Syriac, and the appel- 
lation Fellihi, selected by Prof. Sachau (Skizze des Fellichi-Dialekts von 
Mosul, Berlin, 1895), has therefore much in its favour. It is but