Heinrich Graetz (1817-1891) reshapes Josephus for Bismarck’s Germany

Heinrich Graetz devoted the third volume of his eleven-volume, comprehensive Geschichte der Juden to the period from the death of Judas Maccabaeus in 160 BCE to the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 CE, a period in which he had a great interest. There were four editions in his lifetime and from one edition to the next the volume grew very substantially. Apart from adding new material, Graetz revised the work, and two sets of changes stand out. Comparison of the 1878 third edition with the 1863 second edition shows that (1) beginning with the title and throughout the volume, he changed the name of the protagonists from “Juden” to “Judäer”, and (2) he took care to remove or tone down references to Josephus as a coward and a traitor. Sometimes these changes are quite substantial, sometimes merely the omission or change of a single word. Apparently what motivated Graetz was the desire, in the years following the founding of the German Empire, to deny the suspicion that German Juden of his days had any loyalty to any state other than Germany (so he called those Jews who once had a state “Judäer” in order to distinguish them from contemporary “Juden”) and also to defend them against the related charge that they failed to defend their German fatherland, be it due to cowardice or to treasonous tendencies. But it is difficult to make such changes without leaving ‘fingermarks’. Thus, there is no justification for the comma between ‘zweideutigen’ (ambiguous) and “Haltung” (attitude) that we find in the third edtion (p. 514), and its presence is only a vestige of the fuller text ‘zweideutigen, verrätherischen Haltung’ (ambiguous, treasonous, stance) in p. 366 of the second edition.

JRA entry contributed by D.R. Schwartz