Essay on the Plurality of Time in Judaism
Sylvie Anne Goldberg



I was born in the week of the life of Sara, in the year 390 of the small chronological table.

This happened during the Holiday of Weeks, forty years ago.

Dead the seventh day of the comforting month, in the year 550 . . .

Inquisitive readers lacking the proper indices who wish to translate into “universal time” the above calendrical references, shown according to forms typical of (imaginary) speakers in traditional Jewish society, must proceed to some basic calculations. To begin with, add 5,000 to 390 and subtract 3,760 from the result, which takes us to the year 1630. Or add 240 to 390 to get 630 and then add 1,000 to arrive at the same place. Since the day is not specified, the week must be dated. It appears in the weekly parashah (section of the Torah) “Hayei Sarah,” a passage about the life of Sarah. It is placed in the fifth position after the start of Bereshit, the first weekly portion of the Torah in the annual Jewish cycle of reading the complete Pentateuch, following the celebration of the High Holy Days, enshrining the yearly numeric change. In that year, 1 Tishri, the first day of the civil year and the seventh month of the religious year, was on September 18. The reading of the life of Sarah was on Saturday of the week starting November 4. So our speaker was born between November 4 and 10, 1629, since the Gregorian calendar only changes years on the first of January.1 For the speaker who indicates an event occurring during the holiday of Shavuot forty years before, our research need only find that in 1959 Shavuot fell on June 12 and 13.f2 As for the person who died on the seventh of Av (traditionally referred to as Menachem Av, or Av of Comfort)3 in the year 5500, by similar calculations we arrive at July 18, 1789.

These data take us to the heart of a system of temporal references underutilized by conventional standards, which make of time an idea equally distributed in society. Time quantified by the Jewish era, annus mundi, is calculated from the estimated date of the creation.4 It inserts between the latter and the present day an additional span of 3,760 years not supplied in the Western Christian convention. In the world of Jewish observance, which in today’s society represents one choice among many,5 the year follows the rhythm of the liturgical cycle transmitted by old-age tradition, whose temporal customs recall the conventions of ancient society. In our day, these accepted distinctions between religion and civil law delineate places reserved for the public and private, confession and citizenship, while introducing an unchanging principle of twofold temporal reference.

Questions of Time

Whether liturgical or quotidian, Jewish time speeds along in a weekly cycle, annually repeated in readings of parashiot from the Torah, yet anchored in the ever-renewed deliberateness of the eternity of the first day of creation, which marks the arrival of moving time. Tradition locates the creation of the world in the autumn of a year between 3760 and 3758 BCE. Over the centuries, annus mundi, a unique calendar and double insertion in time and history, promoted the feeling of the uniqueness of Jews amid the sociability of the world in which their lives unfolded. Could the passage of days resembling those of others, yet different in their temporal course, be seen merely as convention, without further effect?

Inherited from ancient civilizations, especially that of Chaldea, the Jewish calendar is lunisolar in principle and function. It differs from the solar Julian calendar, based on the ancient Egyptian one, and the later Gregorian calendar in use today. Like its Christian counterparts, however, the Jewish calendar is based on the convergence of religious and civic principles in yearly proceedings.

The cyclic Jewish disposition of the year comprises various divisions in the succession of months. The new spiritual year begins in autumn, whereas the calendar year starts in the spring. Calendrical divisions juxtapose eschatology, based on biblical tales, with laws emerging from both scriptural orders and rabbinic readings. Biblical tales arrange time in regular cycles, from weekly timekeeping regulating the week into seven days to extraordinary units of nineteen years, including jubilee years governed by seven-year cycles.6 These temporal conventions that cadenced the life of a farming population to the rhythm of the Palestinian seasons in an era before the Diaspora were inherited with hardly a change by the “remnant of the people of Israel,”7 geographically dispersed to highly diverse climates. They result from crafting a life cycle that allows the survival of the group amid other peoples, a phenomenon seen since the first Babylonian Exile.8 At the same time, Hebrews, and later Jews, readily accepted Persian or Seleucid conventions for general external dating, used to denote the reigns of the monarchies of the time.

Dating conventions seem separate from procedures that account for forms of ritual that regulate daily life. The annus mundi was only fully adopted in the Jewish world around the eleventh or twelfth century, whereas the cycle of ritual life had rolled on mostly unaltered since the dawn of the Hebrew religion.9 The life cycle and dating finally met in a specific ordering of time imposed in the Middle Ages. While forms of “traditional society” based on normative rabbinism grew and stabilized, a new symbol of Judaism was implemented, guided by historical convergences that pushed it toward differentiation and self-containment.10 Turning away from surrounding societies that were gradually growing more hostile, the Jews drew on privileges11 granted them by princes and nobles to reinforce their uniqueness. Caught up in this historical process, the Jews became so singular that in a few centuries they formed an autonomous microsociety within some countries, at the same time creating an intellectual world of which understanding and time-related customs were but one reflection. By ignoring the calculation of time in common use and opting for a chronology more reliant on guesswork than on objective computation, medieval Jews located themselves in a temporality that kept them outside the social norms of the countries in which they dwelled. This attitude was affirmed over the centuries, until in modern society it became one of the key markers of the distinctiveness of Jewish identity. Whether one ascribes this temporal enrollment to a resolve not to yield to the usual historical conventions that govern the system of dating or, from an altogether different point of view, regards it as the expression of a kind of national and political autonomy, it reveals a special relationship to temporality. For as we know, the notion of time is a social construct that calls for putting to work the sum of experience accumulated by members of the same group over centuries.12 In light of the fact that “all culture is primarily a certain experience of time,” as the anthropologist Alban Bensa observes, the uniqueness of an era results from the tension caused by the entanglement of “the contemporaneity of attitudes inherited from the past and conduct induced by new concerns.”13 A group’s communication and commerce with its environment might well depend on the time scale it adopts.

Yet measuring time is only one aspect of understanding and using it. The relationship with time is an essential social indicator. It allows us to be part of a plan, to allocate social tasks, and to alter social rhythms to those of nature. It provides a way of distinguishing what is human from what is superhuman, the earth from the heavens, and to contemplate the divine. Whether taken as an idea, stored in a system of categories, or studied as a variable conception, ever since St. Augustine’s meditations on eternity were brought up to date,14 time has most often been relegated to the class of perceptions. It haunts the realm of the undefinable. In traditional society, a person is born, lives, and dies in a temporal order seen as divine. This conception implies splitting human activity into divine and human times. Sacred and profane time both shape the use of what I call a characteristically Jewish “space-time.” Based on a topographic structuring of space, the physical place where Jews are located, this space is governed by the time-related plan conveyed by tradition that traces a space-time framework for daily life. To be sure, this temporality takes shape through use of the calendar, but even more by an arrangement of rhythmic temporal scansions that differ from those adopted by Western Christianity. These distinct rhythms share a border. They meet, and they sometimes even make use of one another, but without ever blending; they are separate yet belong to the same cultural plan. In contrast to the West, which, deeming heathen times obsolete, takes as its benchmark the birth year of the Christian Savior, the annus Domini, Jews take as theirs the origin of time itself: the creation of the world, based on biblical chronologies.15 Between these two temporal scales a whole realm of sociability opens up, fluctuating in the encounter of two modes of belief, two religions. Ways of coexisting and interacting are also decided here.

Insofar as one’s perception of the world shapes one’s idea of time, one’s way of belonging in the world and conceiving of it depends on one’s relationship with time. There is no doubt that time impinges on us differently if it is seen as cyclical, always beginning again, or as propelled into the future or toward some objective. The certainty of inevitable progress toward a final goal involves a process of human action or expectation. Such is the conclusion of many scientific studies of the question. For the historian of religious orders Alphonse Dupront, “Eschatological time is innate certainty of salvation, therefore a conspicuously human time of deliverance and achievement; perhaps it is the only one, made to man’s measure if the human condition is accepted, sought, and experienced in the fullest scope of its force.” Dupront backs up these statements by noting that, essentially, “eschatological time is . . . the time of the communication between the worlds of history and being.”16

Another idea is advanced by Marc Bloch, who defines “historical time” this way: “This real time is in essence a continuum; it is also perpetual change.”17 When historians confront time, to construct a “historical” time to be studied for their own use, they must recapitulate the evolutionary course of its transformation into a convention, which inevitably returns them to antiquity, toward what are taken to be humankind’s first encounters with the notion of eternity. In his introduction to L’ordre du temps,18 Krzysztof Pomian inventories options such as “chronometry, chronography, chronology, and chronosophy” for translating time into signs.19 To delineate his objective, Pomian conceptualizes structures in time, with each defining either its own kind or a specific social construction: psychological time or the time of lived experience; solar or seasonal time pertaining to dwellers in the same land; a liturgical calendar for believers in the same religion; a political calendar for citizens of the same country. This list contains some exact usages of time, all of which fit into the implicit assumption of a shared engagement with the convention establishing a flow and method of dating based on quantitative standards. If we are to believe the historian of traditions Philippe Ariès, the title of his book Le temps de l’histoire (The time of history) suggests that in some sense, historicism creates temporality: “Classical antiquity . . . had no need of the continuity that has since Creation linked contemporary man to the chain of time. Christianity added the idea of a close interdependence of man and history.”20

In a way, the present book seeks to test the validity of this statement by trying to answer the following question: Can the idea of temporality inferred from Jewish thought be understood in terms of a similar relationship of interdependency between humankind and history?

Evaluating Time

From the eighteenth century on, the upheavals in Jewish life profoundly transformed Jews’ perceptions regarding their worldview, on the one hand, and Judaism, on the other. Their relationship with, as well as conventional usages of, time changed radically as a result. By taking an interest specifically in this relationship and these usages, my research seeks to analyze the conflict within Judaism between opposing desires for the perpetuation and the transformation of traditional society. Thus, studying Jewish approaches to time also means examining the reinterpretation of Judaism by Jews during confrontations with their environment. To pinpoint the modalities of participation in society by the Jews that serve as an indicator of their relationship with time, the historian can refer to calendrical conventions. Yet insofar as the calendar is exclusively dedicated to its function of scheduling the liturgical cycle, there is a risk of obtaining only factual, erroneous, or incomplete data. Are there concrete indicators of the relationship with time that are more appropriate? Epigraphy tells us that in the Jewish world it is usually tombstones that convey the most reliable information about conventions in dating an era or community; it is often easier to identify dates of death on grave markers than to find exact the birth dates of people in Jewish society of long ago. Studying dating practices, we find that two historical periods display significant variations from the annus mundi model. The first, appearing fleetingly though frequently during a certain period, consists in using the date of the destruction of the Temple (70 CE) for inscriptions on gravestones or in catacombs;21 the second occurs in revolutionary France, with the advent of the republican era.22

The use in dating of a combination of the annus mundi and the common era, or else of the common era alone, can be traced from that time up to the present, fluctuating according to the rhythm of Emancipation. What takes shape through funerary dating practices, then, is a space for the representation of temporality. The analysis in this essay focuses on genealogy during this long phase.

This vast space-time unfolds on a stage set between the destruction of the Temple and the Emancipation. It contains a series of theological, philosophical, and historical events between the Middle Ages and the end of the modern era that shed light on the relationships among dating practices, conceptions, and customs of the day. Yet the shaping of these practices occurred during the development of rabbinic Judaism in the years that preceded, accompanied, and followed the fall of the Temple. These conceptions and customs are capable of outlining a possible relationship of Jews to historical time that is continuous but also ever-changing, as in Marc Bloch’s definition of it cited above.23 Another path is opened up by examining the dialogue between the Bible and its users, revived in large part by the Jewish Enlightenment movement, the Haskalah, which, because it grants a major role to the struggle between rationalism and faith, belief and knowledge, and to both Jewish and Christian readings, offers a special vantage point for studying these disputes. Built on scriptural readings during the biblical era, this exegesis continued down the centuries, but because it is established as a source of interpretations in antiquity, it is on antiquity that the first part of this study will focus.

This history of time aims to be an inquiry into temporality, sidestepping historical duration. But this project presents some difficulties that cannot be avoided. How not, for example, to uncover a unique time in any specific history? Likewise, how to avoid questioning anew the division of Jewish history into periods by the historians of the Wissenschaft des Judentums movement, launched in nineteenth-century Germany,24 who extended the Middle Ages up to the Emancipation?25 How to understand, without denying history, those historians’ proposition that the Jews be seen as existing in a space-time out of sync with their environment? These questions form the background to this study, which aims to understand how traditional Jewish society perceives and structures time—the way in which, in the long term, it perceives the world. By treating the predominant essential texts, whether religious or secular, that this society has produced, used, and transmitted through the ages as historical sources, we risk compiling a sort of digressive reading of the Jewish social and religious phenomenon through time and history.

Aside from temporal conventions, understood as agents of Jewish singularity, two other elements permeate this study: time and history. They meet, avoid each other, and are set within ideas that are contiguous or associated with them, remaining inherent in the relationships between the imagination and attitudes of the Jews. Time may mark the sudden entrance of an external element or phenomenon, not to speak of a portion of the divine, whereas history, with its cohort of acceptances and refusals—as much a purely terrestrial progression as a profane narrative—remains the prerogative of human purpose. The point of this reflection is neither to devise nor propose a specific meaning hidden behind rites, practices, or even attitudes. More prosaically, it is about realizing how ideas of time and historicity determine, through their objectification in daily life, a way of belonging in the world. Far from explaining or even discussing the beliefs of Jews in traditional society, this analysis rather consists of locating their grounding (ancrage) in a system of references that in turn refers to an imaginary world and a social reality, conveyed by their attitudes and developments. Without seeking to endorse any sort of deep-rooted religious tradition, my goal is to identify effective action in the religious domain of the Jewish world, a world understood as being the fruit of a civilization and a culture preserved—intentionally or not—by objective historical conditions, but also crisscrossed by dealings with foreign mind-sets. In other words, the second objective of this study is to grasp the changes occurring in Jewish attitudes about temporality during their transition from so-called traditional to so-called liberated societies. These working hypotheses allow for tracking the boundaries of the categories of thought; they may also permit us to avoid standard ways of understanding the history of the Jews.

In each era, unremitting strain may be discerned within Jewish societies on many grids, be it religious conflicts, theological movements, or cultural or social changes. All might find expression through a typology that would operate by means of different approaches toward and conventions of time. To talk about the decisive stages in Jewish history, we might choose a periodization based on the appearance of cultural and religious elements that mark clear-cut changes; we could also choose a periodization with a factual basis, comprising neatly cut slices of history. One study of the relation to temporality opens other horizons that some may find fruitful, but others risky. Understanding the relationship between Jews and temporality through their temporal conventions requires the implementation of a grid that cannot be summed up in mere chronology. Certainly, one may construct a history of time limited to a critical scholarly study focusing on temporal indicators found in liturgy, rites, and responsa26 from biblical times to a given era, reducing them to a saga about time. Such is not my purpose here. The present undertaking seeks to delineate the layers deposited by the centuries in Jewish “cultural baggage,” or, in other words, in its cultural and religious patrimony. This jumble of customs, beliefs, integrations, and rejections portrays a society sealed in its singularity by surroundings at times foreign, hostile, or even more dangerous to its survival because tolerant, if not friendly.

It may almost be commonplace to say that Jewish society does not remain fixed, although it perpetuates the pronouncements of its founding documents by continually reintegrating them into its developments. This vitality also keeps it from avoiding broad changes in the societies that surround it. This form of action, the continual infusion of the past into the present, introduces a paradoxical dynamic of the perpetual and the permanent to change whose relationship with temporality is intriguing. It would be easy to interpret this, without further clarification, as a characteristic feature of “traditional” societies according to the now-classic accounts of these severally provided by Mircea Eliade and Aron Gurevich.27 Yet the cyclical model of the ancients and the linear one of the moderns seemingly coexist without friction in a temporality that rejects the usual conceptual conventions. The cultural approach argued by Efraim Shmueli allows us to reread Jewish history while keeping a distance from the monolithic forms created by linear history.28 All the developments in the history of the Jews—even if obviously in the past, such as the biblical or talmudic eras—are thus always at work in the current models constituted by modern rabbinic, philosophical, mystical, or rational systems. They meet or separate briefly before merging into the modalities of a present that calls together a multiplicity of specific conceptual models of the idea of time. In order to document them according to the stereotypical conventions of the linear/circular distinction assumed to shape the traditional or theological models of Western Christian societies, we might easily index odd or incomplete systems, each of them being at any given moment in conflict with the others and thus providing evidence of a barely perceptible rivalry among conceptions that are nonetheless inevitably entangled by their unchanging interdependence. For its heuristic utility, I prefer to adopt a typology organized around the importance given to the idea of present time in the most essential concepts of the Jewish world—a somewhat abstract universe, located outside any clearly delimited temporal space—but constantly engaged with the transformations that reach it in restructuring a Judaism fitting its aspirations and ontological requirements. Our dialectical model suggests analysis of the status of the paired concepts of ‘olam ha-zeh (this world) / ‘olam ha-ba’a (the coming world). The starting point is provided by a parameter: the concept of waiting for redemption that characterizes Judaism through the ages. The correlations and cross-fertilizations of the Jewish concepts of le-‘atid lavo (in the future that is coming) and b‘olam ha-zeh (in this world) in the different models of conceptualization and interpretation circulating in Jewish societies, which confer on them their distinguishing features in various environments and eras, are key to these objectives. These two elements, drawn from basic principles of Jewish eschatology, allow us to clarify its relationship to the notion of time as well as its conventions: real time, whether absent or present, but always assumed to be hurled between past and future, that is, understood as a momentary rescission from projections into the past or future. Far from being limited to philology, the analytic view held here tends toward an anthropological approach: I shall not track down the frequency of these terms in the relevant texts, but instead try to gauge their impact on attitudes.

One of the general ideas of this study is signaled in the reading by Jewish tradition of the concepts “this world” and “the coming world.” We can distinguish between these two concepts the rift in the idea of redemption that separates the concept of resurrection from that of “the coming world” because one pertains to historicity and the other to mystical expectation. In the first case, the “world to come” must arrive at a given point in time in order to inscribe itself in the course of humankind’s progress and extract it from history. It is destined for everyone, it is universal, and it unifies the common heritage of the West. In the second case, however, it is not certain that resurrection is promised to all or guaranteed,29 since God alone holds the key.30

This idea, keenly debated throughout the ages of Judaism, remains open to interpretation, whether from the perspective of a national event or as a worldwide phenomenon. It was challenged directly as to its factuality, notably by Maimonides, the most eminent thinker of medieval Judaism, who in the twelfth century refused to see anything in it but a metaphor for the immortality of the soul.31

To grasp their subject, historians of time must develop categories of analysis that fall outside of theological ideas and create a taxonomy of their own as regards the temporal order. The endeavor here is to develop a model of interpretation that combines aspects of quantification (employing the historical approach based on chronologies and the archaeological finds that validate them); of speculation (acquired from theological discourse, using textual criticism to place texts according to the era in which they are presumed to have been written);32 of religious phenomenology (reflecting the mystical approach, dismissing temporal elements to keep only the account of the meeting with God); and of intratemporality (deriving from Jewish tradition, which gives access to the Bible through the accumulation of exegeses and interpretations).33 Applying this model is a matter of analyzing texts and judging them as documents illustrating a general phenomenon, the function of categories of thought. This will take us far from exegesis or biblical commentary, although the objects analyzed are the same.


1. Starting in 1582, the Gregorian calendar was gradually introduced as a refinement to the Julian calendar, initiated by Julius Caesar in 46 BCE as a reform of the Roman calendar. It was intended to correct the length of the year, especially to make Easter coincide with the time of year agreed upon at the First Council of Nicaea in 325. See Francesco Maiello, Histoire du calendrier de la liturgie à l’agenda (Paris: Seuil, 1993), and E. G. Richard, Mapping Time: The Calendar and Its History (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998).

2. Shavuot, the Feast of Weeks, is a Jewish holiday that occurs on the sixth day of the Hebrew month of Sivan (late May or early June), commemorating the anniversary of the day God gave the Torah to the nation of Israel on Mount Sinai after the exodus from Egypt. It coincides with Pentecost in the Christian calendar.

3. According to tradition, the first and second Jerusalem Temples were destroyed in the month of Av, the Comforter (July–August), so named because, as the month in which the preordained destruction had occurred, it also had to be the month of consolation; for redemption would occur: just as the first part of God’s promise had been kept, the second part would be too.

4. The year of the world, annus mundi, is based on chronologies compiled from genealogies in the Bible.

5. In present-day social life, the degrees of observance and affiliation with Jewish traditions are infinitely variable. They may range from a simple reminder of identity to strict observance of the whole of the Law, including the observance to different extents of holidays, dietary laws, and the use of the Jewish calendar during times of cyclic transitions in life, such as circumcisions, bar mitsvot and bat mitsvot (marking the entry of young people into the community), marriages, and anniversaries of bereavements. There is also a total diversity of community affiliations, more or less Orthodox or Reform, just as there are an infinite number of identifications with Judaism.

6. See Eviatar Zerubavel, The Seven Day Circle: The History and Meaning of the Week (New York: Macmillan, 1985), and id., Hidden Rhythms: Schedules and Calendars in Social Life (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1981).

7. On the day of redemption, the “remnant of the people of Israel,” or She’erit Yisrael, would consist of those who had stayed faithful to the divine covenant. The idea appears in the prophetic books, notably in Isa. 46:3, Jer. 31:6–7, Ezra 11:13, and Mic. 5:5–7, and is mentioned in Lev. 26:36–45, where their return from exile is forecast.

8. The Babylonian Exile, also termed the First Exile, dates to around 597–538 BCE. It is widely held that the Hebrews brought back with them from Babylon significant portions of their calendar, the names of months in particular.

9. The development of the cycle of ritual life is traced in Part II of this book. See also Salo W. Baron, A Social and Religious History of the Jews, vol. 8: High Middle Ages (New York: Columbia University Press, 1958), “Scientific Exploration,” pp. 175–211.

10. In referring to “traditional society” I seek to distinguish between the Jewish social practices that preceded and those that followed the Jewish Emancipation—society governed by the laws of Jewish tradition versus society governed by the laws of citizenship. In judging them in terms of their structural dynamics, we may note the establishment of a kind of continuity in the emergence of Jewish communities in central and eastern Europe during the Middle Ages (eleventh–twelfth centuries) until their modern breakout in the eighteenth–twentieth centuries.

11. “Privileges” granted by kings, princes, lords, and so on were charters and forms of legal contracts that, in return for agreed-upon financial conditions, authorized Jews to live in certain countries, cities, or regions according to a system of communal autonomy allowing them to be governed by their own laws and to practice their religion. See Julius Aronius, Regesten zur Geschichte der Juden im fränkischen und deutschen Reiche bis zum Jahre 1273 (Berlin: Nathansen & Lamm, 1887–1902; repr., Hildesheim: Olms, 1970), no. 168, and Louis Finkelstein, Jewish Self-Government in the Middle Ages (New York: Feldheim, 1924). These charters were part of a continuity of specific laws granted to Jews in antiquity, from those mentioned in the books of Ezra and Maccabees to Theodoric’s charter confirming the privileges of Jews in the year 500 CE.

12. Norbert Elias, Über die Zeit (Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp, 1984); translated as Time: An Essay (Oxford: Blackwell, 1992) and as An Essay on Time, in The Collected Works of Norbert Elias, vol. 9 (Dublin: University College Dublin Press, 2007).

13. Alban Bensa, “De la micro histoire vers une anthropologie critique,” in Jeux d’échelles: La microanalyse à l’expérience, ed. Jacques Revel, pp. 54–55 (Paris: Seuil, 1996).

14. Paul Ricoeur, Time and Narrative, vol. 1, trans. Kathleen McLaughlin and David Pellauer (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1984). See the first chapter, “The Aporia of the Experience of Time: Book II of Augustine’s Confessions.”

15. Although Jews employed a ritual calendar arranged in exact cycles, using chronologies and computing the date of the creation of the world posed different problems, expressed both in Messianic estimations and the establishment of “long” cycles. For this reason there are chronologies in many writings, especially those found at Qumran, long associated with what is currently called the Dead Sea Sect. See Roger T. Beckwith, “Daniel 9 and the Date of the Messiah’s Coming in Essene, Hellenistic, Pharisaic, Zealot and Early Christian Communities,” RQ 10, no. 4 [40] (1981): 521–542; L. A. Reznikoff, “Jewish Calendar Calculations,” Scripta Mathematica 9 (1943): 191–195, 274–277; Hayyim Yehiel Bornstein, “Ta’arikhei Yisrael,” Ha-tekufah 8 (1920): 281–338; 9 (1921): 202–264. The oldest surviving Hebrew chronology, apart from the one in the Book of Jubilees, is in Seder ‘olam, which after the twelfth century was called Seder ‘olam rabbah to differentiate it from Seder ‘olam zutta. A first edition appeared in Mantua in 1514, followed by many more. The corpus of ancient and medieval Hebrew chronologies is collected in Adolf Neubauer, ed., Medieval Jewish Chronicles and Chronological Notes (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1887–1895; 2nd ed., Jerusalem: n.p., 1967). We shall return to this subject at length in Part II of this book.

16. Alphonse Dupront, Du sacré: Croisades et pèlerinages, images et langages (Paris: Gallimard, 1987), p. 309.

17. Marc Bloch, Apologie pour l’histoire ou Métier d’historien (1949), trans. Peter Putnam as The Historian’s Craft (New York: Knopf, 1953), p. 28.

18. Krzysztof Pomian, L’ordre du temps (Paris: Gallimard, 1984), p. ix.

19. Ibid.: chronometry, through the use of calendars and measuring instruments; chronographies, through the entries in records and changes in them; chronologies, through series of names and dates showing the sequence of eras and their subdivisions until today; and chronosophy, which discovers references to time in animal and human bodies, in the movement of the stars, and in documents, monuments, and texts just as much as in scientific data.

20. Philippe Ariès, Le temps de l’histoire (Paris: Seuil, 1954; repr. with an introduction by Roger Chartier, 1986), p. 96.

21. Graziadio Isaia Ascoli, Iscrizioni inedite o mal note greche, latine, ebraiche, di antichi sepolcri giudaici del Napolitano (Turin: E. Loescher, 1880). For a brief history of the establishment of the Jewish cemetery, see Sylvie Anne Goldberg, Crossing the Jabbok: Illness and Death in Ashkenazi Judaism in Sixteenth-Through Nineteenth-Century Prague (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1996); these principles and dating practices are analyzed in Part II of this book.

22. See the epitaphs in Léon Kahn, Histoire de la communauté israélite de Paris: Le Comité de bienfaisance, l’hôpital, l’orphelinat et les cimetières (Paris: A. Durlacher, 1886); Gérard Nahon, “La nation juive portugaise en France, XVIe–XVIIIe siècles: Espaces et pouvoirs,” REJ 153 (1994): 353–382; Bernard Blumenkranz, ed., Les juifs et la Révolution française (Toulouse: Privat, 1976); Sylvie Anne Goldberg, “La tolérance des Juifs en France: Cimetières et émancipation,” in Louis XVI: Du serment du Sacre à l’Édit de tolérance de 1787 (exhibition catalogue), pp. 55–67 (Paris: Bibliothèque, 1988). I developed this point in “Temporality as Paradox: The Jewish Time,” in Jewish Studies in a New Europe: Proceedings of the Fifth Congress of Jewish Studies in Copenhagen 1994 under the Auspices of the European Association for Jewish Studies, ed. Ulf Haxen, Hanne Trautner-Kromann, and Karen Lisa Goldschmidt Salamon, pp. 284–293 (Copenhagen: Det Kongelige Bibliotek, 1998).

23. Bloch, Historian’s Craft, p. 28.

24. Wissenschaft des Judentums produced the first historiographical studies of Jewish history. See La religion comme science: La Wissenschaft des Judentums, special issue, Pardès, 19–20 (1994); Sylvie Anne Goldberg, “L’étude du judaïsme: Science historique ou religieuse?” Préfaces, 19 (June–September 1990): 88–95; id., introduction to Histoire juive, histoire des Juifs: D’autres approaches, special issue, Annales HSS 5 (1994): 1019–1029.

25. Jewish emancipation occurred gradually between the Habsburg emperor Joseph II’s 1782 Edict of Tolerance and the Russian Revolution in 1917. Historians of the Wissenschaft believed that the Middle Ages should be extended until the French Revolution in Jewish history.

26. The religious Jewish patrimony of lawmaking consists of responsa, which cover all of Jewish life from the completion of the Talmud to the present day.

27. Mircea Eliade, The Myth of the Eternal Return: or, Cosmos and History, trans. Willard R. Trask (New York: Harper, 1959, 2012); Aron Gurevich, Categories of Medieval Culture, trans. G. L. Campbell (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1985).

28. Efraim Shmueli, Seven Jewish Cultures: A Reinterpretation of Jewish History and Thought, trans. Gila Shmueli (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990).

29. The concept of the resurrection of the body is based on Ezekiel’s Vision (Ezek. 37: 1–14); it is sometimes replaced by belief in the immortality of the soul. Generally, it is seen as a belief of Pharisaic origin, whose arguments are presented in 2 Macc. 7:9–36; 12:43–44; see also the Book of Jubilees, 23:30. Rabbinic arguments in favor of resurrection are found in Sanh. 90b–92b; Hul. 142a; Ber. 16b; Gen. R. 20:26; Lev. R. 27:4.

30. Ta‘an 2a; Sanh. 113a.

31. Mosheh ben Maimon (1135/1138–1204), known by the acronym RaMBaM, was a multifaceted personality: doctor, philosopher, theologian, codifier, and astronomer. He made immense contributions to Judaism in the field of codification, as well as in exegesis and philosophy, and also wrote medical treatises and astronomical studies. His Mishneh Torah constitutes a “second Torah” and his Guide of the Perplexed is a philosophical masterwork of Jewish Aristotelianism. His positions, sometimes considered close to heresy, caused violent controversy during his lifetime and afterwards. See Amos Funkenstein, Maimonides: His Nature, History and Messianic Beliefs (Tel Aviv: MOD Books, 1997); Yeshayahu Leibowitz, Faith of Maimonides (Tel Aviv: MOD Books, 1996); Moshe Idel, Maïmonide et la mystique juive (Paris: Cerf, 1991); Maimonides and the Jewish Mystic (Cluj-Napoca: Dacia, 2001); Leo Strauss, Leo Strauss on Maimonides: The Complete Writings (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2013); the introduction by Shlomo Pines preceded by a preface by Leo Strauss in Maimonides, Guide of the Perplexed (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1963), and one by Isadore Twersky to Introduction to the Code of Maimonides (Mishneh Torah) (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1980); Shlomo Pines, “Les sources philosophiques du Guide des perplexes,” in La liberté de philosopher de Maïmonide à Spinoza, trans. Rémi Brague (Paris: Desclée de Brouwer, 1997); Fred Rosner, Moses Maimonides’ Treatise “On Resurrection” (Jerusalem: Ktav, 1982); and Moshe Halbertal, Maimonides: Life and Thought, trans. Joel Linsider (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2014).

32. The method of biblical criticism has widely fueled contemporary theological disputes. By refuting the Mosaic authenticity of the Pentateuch and analyzing it philologically, it has to some extent introduced the critical examination of literature.

33. Such “intratemporality” deriving from Jewish tradition tallies with “world time” in the Heideggerian sense.