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Lebenswelt, Diskurs und Traditionswandel

Anmerkungen zu Texten und Subtexten jüdischer Geschichtsschreibung von Benjamin von Tudela bis Itzchak Baer

Johannes Heil

Pages 71 - 95

Based on a selection of exemplary sources from Jewish medieval history and modern historiography,
this contribution deploys the theory debates of recent decades in history, literature, and sociology
in order to generate new insights for Jewish historiography. At the same time, the article seeks to
gain further impulses for general historiography based on a critical reading of Jewish history.
In terms of more general theoretical debates, the article establishes a critical survey of different
concepts of discourse, especially of those of Michael Foucault, Jürgen Habermas, Hayden White,
Reinhart Koselleck and Gabrielle Spiegel. In terms of Jewish historiography, the contribution
covers Yosef H. Yerushalmi und Amos Funkenstein. In order to understand Jewish patterns of
historiographical self-perception in different times and in changing Lebenswelten, the article
studies texts from the realm of Jewish history as a way to avoid any theory-driven reduction of the
analysis and as means to emphasize the impact of rhetoric on history-as-historiography. The texts
show that according to Jewish traditions, Lebenswelt-driven discourses reflect ongoing historical
changes, especially with regard to the continuous instability of Jewish life. Relevant texts can be
found in a comparatively broad spectrum of genres: Beyond historiographic sources, relevant
documents include liturgic poetry (piyyutim), Halakhic responsa, and travel accounts. Among the
different medieval authors, this article focuses especially on Benjamin von Tudela and his travel
accout (Sivuv) from the later 12th century. Benjamin’s subtle counter-images to Christian concepts
of Rome and Jerusalem are analysed as impressive examples for „hidden transcripts“ in the sense
of James C. Scott, thereby demonstrating how one’s own Lebenswelt could be re-secured by using
tools of discourse which had been designed by others. Among modern authors, special attention
is given to Isaak Marcus Jost and Itzchak Baer. The overarching element which combines the
various discourses can be found in the authors’ search for contingency of their Lebenswelt, by
employing various rhetorical instruments and by reaching different outcomes.


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