Anthropological Studies of Judaism

Changes in anthropology--and in Jewish studies--have brought about a new field of inquiry in academia.

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In sharpening its tools for the analysis of systems, including, of course, religious systems, anthropology has borrowed from fields such as linguistics, literary criticism, drama, and so forth, thereby contributing to new approaches known variously as "structuralist," "semiotic," "hermeneutic," and the like.

Insofar as this new theoretical thrust does not ignore the more solid concepts that anthropology shares with other social sciences, and links the realm of symbols and meaning to economic trends, social stratification, or political struggle, the way is paved for a deepened understanding of the historical experiences of all societies, whether tribal, traditional, or modern.

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Harvey E. Goldberg is Professor of Sociology and Anthropology at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem.