Judaism and Literature

This section is still in development. Edited by Abigail Gillman, Boston University.

Overview: Literature, incl. Anthologies and Sourcebooks; Poetry; Short Fiction; Yiddish Literature; Holocaust Literature; Literature of Jewish-Christian Relations; Literary Criticism, incl. Journals and Periodicals; The Tanakh (The Hebrew Bible), incl. Jewish Translations of the Hebrew Bible; Special Topics: Hermeneutics; Jewish Translation Studies; Other Resources: Encyclopedias and Digital Libraries.

Literature

Anthologies and Sourcebooks

David Biale, Cultures of the Jews. 3 volumes.

Martin Buber, Legends of the Hasidim. 2 volumes. 

Martin Buber, The Tales of Rabbi Nachman. 

Jeffrey Rubenstein, Rabbinic Stories. 

Bialik and Ravnitzky, The Book of Legends / Sefer Ha-Aggadah. [1900?]

Louis Ginzburg, ed. The Legends of the Jews. 7 volumes. [1938] 1998. 

A landmark collection of legends based on biblical stories, originally written in Hebrew, Greek, Latin, Syrian, Aramaic, Ethiopic, Arabic, Persian, and Old Slavic. Organized in biblical sequence. 4 volumes of legends, 2 volumes of notes, and index. Originally published in Jewish Publication Society of America, 1938; reissued by Johns Hopkins Press Paperbacks, 1998. 

Frank Kermode and Robert Alter, A Literary Guide to the Bible.

Mendes-Flohr and Reinharz, The Jew in the Modern World.

“A collection of documents and excerpts from books and articles relating to Jewish history from the mid-17th to the mid-20th centuries.”

Sander L. Gilman and Jack Zipes, Yale Companion to Jewish Writing and Thought in German Culture, 1096-1986. 1997. 

Poetry Collections

T. Carmi, Penguin Book of Hebrew Poetry. (Hebrew and English texts)

Raymond P. Scheindlin, The Gazelle….

Raymond P. Scheindlin, Wine, Women and Death. …

Peter Cole, trans. The Dream of the Poem….

Shirley Kaufman, Galit Hasan-Rokem, Tamar Hess. The Defiant Muse: Hebrew Feminist Poems from Antiquity to the Present: A Bi-lingual Anthology. Feminist Press (1999). 

Hebrew and English poems, side by side. 

Short Fiction

The Flying Camel: Essays on Identity by Women of North African and Middle Eastern Jewish Heritage. 2003, second edition 2022, ed. Loolwa Khazoom.

First anthology by Jewish women of color. 

The Penguin Book of Jewish Short Stories. Ed. Emanuel Litvinoff. 

Great Jewish Short Stories. Ed. and introduced by nobel-prize winner Saul Bellow. 1963.

Twenty-eight classic stories. One of the first such volumes.

The Oxford Book of Jewish Short Stories. Ed and introduced by Ilan Stavans. 1998.  

The Oxford Book of Hebrew Short Stories. Ed. Glenda Abramson. 

Ribcage : Israeli women’s fiction : a Hadassah anthology. by Carol Diament; Lily Rattok; Hadassah, the Women’s Zionist Organization of America.

Modern Hebrew Literature, ed. Robert Alter Behrman House. 1989.

Classic stories with introductions. But no women authors included. 

Isaac Babel, Odessa Tales. 

Cynthia Ozick, The Pagan Rabbi.

Sholom Aleichem [pen name of Solomon Rabinovich]  Tevye the Dairyman. Basis of the musical Fiddler on the Roof. 

Savyon Liebrecht, Apples from the Desert.

Philip Roth, Goodbye, Columbus.

Franz Kafka: The Complete Stories, ed. Nahum N. Glatzer.

The Collected Stories of Isaac Bashevis Singer.

The Book that was Lost and Other Stories, S. Y. Agnon.

Yiddish Literature

Stavans and Lambert, How Yiddish Changed America and how America Changed Yiddish.
Restless Books, NY 2020.

Anthology of diverse Yiddish-American Literary texts, with a useful timeline.

Literature of the Holocaust

Primary 

Elie Wiesel, Night.

Jurek Becker, Jacob the Liar.

Cynthia Ozick, The Shawl.

Art Spiegelman, Maus. A Survivor’s Tale. 

Primo Levi, If this is a Man / Survivor in Auschwitz

The Diary of Anne Frank.

Still Alive. Ruth Klüger.

Secondary

Geoffrey H. Hartman, ed. Holocaust Remembrance. The Shapes of Memory. Blackwell. 1994. 

Berel Lang, ed. Writing and the Holocaust. Holmes and Meier, 1988

Marianne Hirsch and Irene Kacandes, Teaching the Representation of the Holocaust. MLA, 2004. 

Lisa Silverman and Daniel H. Magilow, Holocaust Representations in History: An Introduction. Bloomsbury.  

Jewish-Christian Relations in Literature

Primary Sources
William Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice.

Levine and Bretler. The Jewish Annotated New Testament.

Secondary

Amy-Jill Levine and Marc Zvi Brettler, The Bible with and Without Jesus.

Wrestling with Shylock: Jewish Responses to The Merchant of Venice. Ed. Michael Shapiro and Edna Nahshon. Cambridge University Press, 2017.

Literary Criticism

George Steiner.

Cynthia Ozick, Memory and Metaphor.

Ilan Stavans, Jewish Literature: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford UP 2021. 

Gila Safran Naveh, Biblical Parables and Their Modern Recreations. 2000. 

Harold Fisch, New Stories for Old. Biblical Patterns in the Novel. (1998)

Geoffrey H. Hartman and Sanford Budick, Midrash and Literature. Yale, 1986.

“Essays discuss Jewish critical interpretations of the Bible and the influence of these writings on modern literature.”

Hanna Wirth-Nesher, Ed. What is Jewish Literature? 

Abigail Gillman, Viennese Jewish Modernism. Freud, Hofmannsthal, Beer-Hofmann and Schnitzler. Penn State, 2008. 

The Tanakh (the Hebrew Bible)

The Tanakh Online

Jewish Translations of the Hebrew Bible (the Tanakh)

A Jewish translation of the Tanakh is based on the original masoretic (traditional Hebrew) text. It  differs from a Christian translation of the Old Testament in several ways.

The JPS TANAKH (1985).

Since the early 20th century, this is the standard American Jewish translation of the Hebrew Bible. A collaborative effort of an interdenominational team of Jewish scholars and rabbis working together over a twenty-year period. 

The Jewish Study Bible (Oxford). 

Incorporates the JPS English translation with the addition of a comprehensive running commentary, notes, and essays by leading scholars of Bible and Jewish Studies. 

The Five Books of Moses / The Schocken Bible. Trans. Everett Fox.

A Hebraic translation inspired by the method of Martin Buber and Franz Rosenzweig (1920s Germany). Fox is a Professor at Clark University.

The Hebrew Bible, a translation with commentary, by Robert Alter (Oxford UP; 3 volumes).

New translation by scholar of Hebrew and Comparative Literature. 

The Jewish Annotated New Testament, ed. Amy-Jill Levine and Marc Zvi Brettler.

The New Testament interpreted through a Jewish vantage point  by two biblical experts. 

Special Topics

Hermeneutics

Maimonides, The Guide to the Perplexed, introduction.

Introduction discusses how to read and interpret religious texts. 

Bishop Robert Lowth. On the Sacred Poetry of the Hebrews. 1754.

De Sacra Poesi Hebraeorum, Praedectiones Academicae (Oxon. 1753, 4to; 2d edit. with annot. by Michaelis, Götting. 1758; Oxf. 1763; Gotting, 1768; Oxford, 1775, 1810; with notes by Rosenmüller, Leips. 1815; and last and best, Oxford, 1821, 8vo).

An English translation of the first 18 lectures was prepared by Dr. Dodd for the Christian Magazine (1766-67), and of all by Dr. Gregory (Lond. 1787,1816, 1835, 1839, 1847); a still more desirable English translation was prepared by Prof. Stowe (Andover, 1829, 8vo). “In these masterly and classical dissertations,” says Ginsburg (in Kitto, Cycl. Of Bibl. Lit. 2, s.v.), “Lowth not only evinces a deep knowledge of the Hebrew language, but philosophically exhibits the true spirit and characteristics of that poetry in which the prophets of the O.T. clothed the lively oracles of God. It does not at all detract from Lowth’s merits that both Abrabanel and Azariah de Rossi had pointed out two centuries before him the same features of Hebrew poetry [see Rossi] upon which he expatiates, inasmuch as the enlarged views and the invincible arguments displayed in his handling of the subject are peculiarly his own; and his work is therefore justly regarded as marking a new epoch in the treatment of the Hebrew poetry.https://www.biblicalcyclopedia.com/L/lowth-robert.html.

Herder

Mendelssohn

Jewish Translation Studies

Leslie Morris, The Translated Jew.

Naomi Seidman, Faithful Renderings. The Politics of jewish Christian Translation.

Adriana X. Jacobs. Strange Cocktail…Hebrew Poetry and Translation.

Other Resources

Encyclopedias and Digital Libraries

Encyclopedia Judaica (22 volumes; 2nd. Edition, 2006). Print only. 

The Jewish Encyclopedia (1901-1906). Print and online.

Sefaria: A Living Library of Jewish Texts.

An online, open-source, free content, digital, still growing library of Jewish texts (Tanakh, Talmud, Mishnah, Midrash, commentaries ancient through modern) in Hebrew and English translation. In 2020, they tracked 500,000/users in a month.

Encyclopedia of the Bible and its Reception (EBR); De Gruyter Press. Print and Online.

The first comprehensive biblical research tool to incorporate fully the history of interpretation and reception of biblical themes, concepts and characters  in Judaism, Christianity, Islam, other religions, and the Arts—literature, visual arts, music, dance and film–into an encyclopedic treatment of the Bible. 20 volumes have been published so far (A-N).

The Jewish Women’s Archive

Online archive with an excellent, up-to-date encyclopedia and other resources.

Reference Guide to Holocaust Literature.

University of Illinois Library Resource in Jewish Studies

Collected resources of interest for Judaism and Literature.