Literature on Jewish themes and in languages regarded as Jewish has been written continuously for the past 3,000 years. What the term Jewish literature encompasses, however, demands definition, since Jews have lived in so many countries and have written in so many different languages and on such diverse themes. In this article it will be understood to include the following categories: (1) works written by Jews on Jewish themes in any language; (2) works of a literary character written by Jews in Hebrew or Yiddish or other recognized languages, whatever the theme; (3) literary works written by writers who were essentially Jewish writers, whatever the theme and whatever the language. This entry covers the subject up to the threshold of the modern period. The continuation will be found in other entries including Hebrew Literature, Modern; Yiddish Literature; Ladino Literature.
Waxman, Literature: see bibliographies at end of each volume; Winter and Wuensche, Die juedische Literatur (1906); see also bibliographies for each relevant entry in the encyclopaedia. ADD. BIBLIOGRAPHY: YIDDISH LITERATURE: J.C. Frakes (ed.), Early Yiddish Texts, 1100–1750 (2004); J. Baumgarten, Introduction to Old Yiddish Literature (2005).
Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.