The purpose of this dissertation is to examine the Zionist project of creating a “New Jew” (or “New Hebrew”) from the perspective of three of the founding fathers of Israeli historiography, all associated with the so-called “Jerusalem School” of Jewish historiography: Yitzhak Baer (1888-1980), the historian of the Jewish Middle Ages, who late in life turned to the study of Second Commonwealth Judaism; Gershom Scholem (1897-1982), the founder of the academic study of Jewish mysticism; and Yehezkel Kaufmann (1889-1963), historian-sociologist, and one of the foremost biblical scholars of the twentieth century. My purpose is not only to explore how these individuals related to the idea of creating a new Jewish identity, but also – and primarily – to assess how they participated in the process, and how their historical writings contributed to the new identity formation. As such, this is also a study of the relationship between historiography and political ideas, as well as a broader reflection on the nature of historiography and its place in political life. In the Introduction, I provide the historical background to the emergence of the idea of the “New Jew”, the history of the Jerusalem School, a review of current literature, and an overview of the aims and methods of this study. I then turn to the three protagonists of this study, Baer, Scholem, and Kaufmann, in individualized chapters. In my concluding remarks, I reflect on the enduring legacy of this first-generation of Jerusalem scholars, and suggest some ways by which their writings could continue to be relevant in the fields of history and political thought.




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