Jews and Gentiles

Jews and Gentiles : A Historical Sociology of Their Relations

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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.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 270 pages
  • 152 x 229 x 23.88mm | 522g
  • Transaction Publishers
  • Somerset, United Kingdom
  • English
  • New.
  • 0765802120
  • 9780765802125

Review quote

-Cahnman (1902-1980), 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. He pays particular attention to the High Middle Ages in central Europe where, he contends, -the structural patterns that govern Jewish-Gentile relations have been consolidated...- [A] great deal of information in a short space. Its publication serves as a loving tribute to Cahnman by devoted students. Summing Up: Optional. For specialized libraries.-

--J. D. Sarna, Choice

-Cahnman's history is a valuable aid in examining Jewish relationships or responses to Christianity as the model for the modern Jewish experience.-

--Sander L. Gilman, Modern Judaism "Cahnman (1902-1980), 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. He pays particular attention to the High Middle Ages in central Europe where, he contends, "the structural patterns that govern Jewish-Gentile relations have been consolidated..." [A] great deal of information in a short space. Its publication serves as a loving tribute to Cahnman by devoted students. Summing Up: Optional. For specialized libraries."

--J. D. Sarna, Choice

"Cahnman's history is a valuable aid in examining Jewish relationships or responses to Christianity as the model for the modern Jewish experience."

--Sander L. Gilman, Modern Judaism "Cahnman (1902-1980), 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. He pays particular attention to the High Middle Ages in central Europe where, he contends, "the structural patterns that govern Jewish-Gentile relations have been consolidated..." [A] great deal of information in a short space. Its publication serves as a loving tribute to Cahnman by devoted students. Summing Up: Optional. For specialized libraries."

--J. D. Sarna, Choice

"Cahnman's history is a valuable aid in examining Jewish relationships or responses to Christianity as the model for the modern Jewish experience."

--Sander L. Gilman, "Modern Judaism" "Cahnman's history is a valuable aid in examining Jewish relationships or responses to Christianity as the model for the modern Jewish experience."
--Sander L. Gilman, "Modern Judaism"
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About Werner J. Cahnman

Werner J. Cahnman (1902-1980) worked at the Berlin Industrial and Trade Chamber and the Counsel of the National Association of Bavaria before being arrested by the Gestapo. Upon his release he went to the United States and taught at many American universities, including Rutgers University. His major contributions in social science were made through his work in the sociology of Jews and sociological theory. His books include Ferdinand Toennier and A New Evaluation and Sociology and History.
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