Friday, August 19, 2016

Behre on Berkovitz's "Protocols of Justice"

Over at H-France, Patricia Behre, Fairfield University, has published a very substantial and thoughtful review of Jay R. Berkovitz’s Protocols of Justice: The Pinkas of the Metz Rabbinic Court 1771-1789 (Leiden and Boston: Brill, 2014).  It commences:
Works of history often offer quite disparate gifts to the community of scholars they seek to reach. Transcribed, annotated, organized, and printed archival sources prove extraordinarily useful, if not particularly graceful. Their very blandness becomes a virtue, leaving the analysis for those who come later, often much later. Monographs dependent on close reading of archival sources can offer graceful, or even groundbreaking analysis, but are often more useful as springboards and correctives to other monograph writers, who must then grapple themselves with obscure, paleographically-challenging primary sources. In Protocols of Justice: The Pinkas of the Metz Rabbinic Court, 1771-1789, Jay R. Berkovitz gives us both, a monumental archival source that should further the work of countless scholars in various fields of history, and a bold work of synthesis and analysis that challenges prevailing views and opens new lines of inquiry.
The entire review is here.