Poetic Emancipation: Wissenschaft des Judentums and the Study of Folk-Narratives

Dani Schrire*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The present article aims at explaining the unique role the study of folk-narrative played in the Wissenschaft des Judentums (the scholarly study of Judaism) as it emerged in the nineteenth century and first half of the twentieth century and as it was negotiated later. This article engages how the language of Wissenschaft constructed Jewish texts in the language of folk-narrative studies. And how the language of folk-narrative studies constructed Jewish culture in the language of Wissenschaft. Given the status of scholars within this movement-Jews who were citizens of European nations-they demonstrated the affinities between Jewish folk-narrative traditions and Islamic narrative traditions; on the other hand, they used a poetic language that implemented European (mainly German) genres and forms of scholarship that were viewed as objective and scientific in their studies of Jewish texts. The article examines three works by three scholars from three generations of the Wissenschaft movement: Moritz Steinschneider, Ignaz Goldziehr and Bernhard Heller-each corresponding respectively to one genre: legend, myth and folktale.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)213-242
Number of pages30
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - 1 Nov 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 bei den Autorinnen und Autoren, publiziert von De Gruyter.


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