I just returned from this week’s David Patterson seminar, and it was probably the most interesting one I’ve attended yet. Albert Baumgarten spoke about his biography of Elias Bickerman. It was a fascinating look into Bickerman’s intellectual life. Baumgarten explains that he approaches Bickerman in terms opposite to those Bickerman would have used to describe himself. He calls him a Jewish historian, for instance, despite the fact that Bickerman spoke of himself primarily as a Classicist. Interestingly enough, Baumgarten ordered that, upon his death, all his personal papers be burnt without being read. He wanted to be remembered exclusively for his scholarship. Despite this handicap, Baumgarten displays profound insight into Bickerman’s life and scholarship, and I look forward to the book.
February 3, 2010