Rabbi Nachman Krochmal and His Approach to the Interpretation of the Bible and Jewish-History, His Language and Style

Dissertation, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg (South Africa) (1981)

The importance of Rabbi Nachman Krochmal for Modern Hebrew literature has been noted by literary historians and scholars. Certain concepts such as the development of "history and nationalism" and certain methods of research in the science of Judaism, can be attributed to Ranak. ;The purpose of this thesis is to critically evaluate Ranak's approach to historiosophy in general, and in particular his contribution to biblical interpretation and analyse his language and style. ;Part one deals with Ranak's particular method of biblical interpretation bearing in mind he was on the one hand a product of the Age of Enlightenment and on the other a philosopher who selected biblical passages to support his particular views. His biblical commentary is the key to understanding some of his terms. ;Part two deals with the relation between the Jewish nation and its neighbours. According to Ranak, as the Jewish nation becomes politically dominant it becomes increasingly isolated both spiritually and culturally. Only its awareness of the Absolute Spirit gives it its "eternity." This aspect of Ranak's historiosophy is of significance especially for our generation today. ;Attention is paid to the possibility of an ambiguity underlying Ranak's metaphysical doctrine in which both a religious and a secular meaning reside simultaneously. On the one hand he speaks of the Absolute Spirit that is the Lord and the spirit of the nation which receives its inspiration from this Absolute Being. On the other he speaks of the autonomous spirit of the nation which manifests itself in its culture, showing that his concept of the term "Spirit" is both religious and secular. ;The influence of philosophers such as Yehuda Halevi and the Maharal of Prague upon Ranak's thinking is also discussed. ;Part three deals with Ranak's language and style. This is a first attempt in Hebrew literature to describe his language and style through modern techniques of analysis. ;Ranak plays an important role in transfering a body of lexical items from each successive generation to the next. A portion of the phrases used has been entirely coined by him and is still used in the Hebrew of today
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