Jews and Gentiles: A Historical Sociology of Their Relations

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Werner Jacob Cahnman, Judith T. Marcus, Zolt√°n Tarr
Transaction Publishers - Social Science - 253 pages

Studies of the Jewish experience among peoples with whom they live share some similarities with the usual histories of anti-Semitism, but also some differences. When the focus is on anti-Semitism, Jewish history appears as a record of unmitigated hostility against the Jewish people and of passivity on their part. However, as Werner J. Cahnman demonstrates in this posthumous volume, Jewish-Gentile relations are far more complex. There is a long history of mutual contacts, positive as well as antagonistic, even if conflict continues to require particular attention. Cahnman's approach, while following a historical sequence, is sociological in conception. From Roman antiquity through the Middle Ages, into the era of emancipation and the Holocaust, and finally to the present American and Israeli scene, there are basic similarities and various dissimilarities, all of which are described and analyzed. Cahnman tests the theses of classical sociology implicitly, yet unobtrusively. He traces the socio-economic basis of human relations, which Marx and others have emphasized, and considers Jews a "marginal trading people" in the Park-Becker sense. Simmel and Toennies, he shows, understood Jews as "strangers" and "intermediaries." While Cahnman shows that Jews were not "pariahs," as Max Weber thought, he finds a remarkable affinity to Weber's Protestantism-capitalism argument in the tension of Jewish-Christian relations emerging from the bitter theological argument over usury. The primacy of Jewish-Gentile relations in all their complexity and variability is essential for the understanding of Jewish social and political history. This volume is a valuable contribution to that understanding. Cahnman one of the pioneers of historical sociology, surveys Jewish-Gentile relations from antiquity to the present, focusing on the role of Jews as outsiders who serve as "mediators" between worlds. - Choice Werner J. Cahnman (1902-1980) taught at many American universities, including Rutgers and the New School for Social Research. Judith T. Marcus is on the faculty of Kenyon College and is the author of Georg Lukacs and Thomas Mann: A Study in the Sociology of Literature. Zoltan Tarr has taught sociology and history at City College of CUNY, the New School for Social Research, and Rutgers University. He is the author of The Frankfurt School.


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Approach to the Subject
Theology as a Point of Departure
The Initial Position of the Jews in the Social Structure
The Usury Privilege
The Revolt of the Masses
The Jews and the Society of the High Middle Ages
The JudaeoArabic Symbiosis and the Splendor and Misery
The Jews of Eastern Europe
The Dialectics of Catastrophe
The Actual Jew and the Mythical Jew
A Comment about the Soviet Union
Is America Different?
Varieties of Pluralism in America
Jews and Blacks
The State of Israel

The Ghetto
Court Jews and Bankers
Galut and Citizenship

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Heine-Jahrbuch, Volume 45

No preview available - 2006

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