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Ellis Rivkin

RIVKIN, ELLIS (1918– ), U.S. historian. Born in Baltimore, Maryland, Rivkin received a doctorate in history from Johns Hopkins University. He taught Jewish history at Gratz College before being appointed professor of Jewish history at the Hebrew Union College–Jewish Institute of Religion, Cincinnati, Ohio. He acquired renown as a perceptive analyst of the interrelationships between Jewish life and that of the surrounding culture as well as for his application of new methodologies to the problems of Jewish historiography. Best known among these approaches are his reconstruction of the problem of the Pharisees (e.g., "Defining the Pharisees: The Tannaitic Sources," in: HUCA, 40–41 (1969–70), 205–49) and his conception of the "unity principle," which he regards as the major constant in Jewish history. He feels that the Jewish people have confronted and comprehended cataclysmic changes and increasingly complex diversity through the ages without loss of their identity or ideals. After retiring from teaching, Rivkin was named professor emeritus of Jewish history at Hebrew Union College.

Rivkin's works include: Leon da Modena and the Kol Sakhal (1952); Dynamics of Jewish History (1970); The Shaping of Jewish History: A Radical New Interpretation (1971); Hidden Revolution (1978); and What Crucified Jesus? (1984).


R. Seltzer (ed.), Judaism: A People and Its History (1989).

Sources: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.