Published online by Cambridge University Press: 03 September 2020
This chapter investigates the specific philological practice of textual criticism and explores how this highly valued methodology was adopted by Jewish scholars working in the German-speaking world of the nineteenth century as part of the modernizing intellectual movement of Wissenschaft des Judentums, ‘The Scholarship of Judaism’. It explores how this move towards modernity depended on specific methodological engagement with a classical past. In particular, it focuses on how one leading rabbi and scholar, Zacharias Fraenkel, studied Greek philology in order to redraft Christian supersessionist historiography, which in the nineteenth century was composing a particular but profoundly distorting historical account of early Judaism, based on new philological methods. Fraenkel used philology to create a theologically-laden account of ancient Jewish society not as a dying religion but as a vital creative culture.