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Book The Beginning of the World in Renaissance Jewish Thought Description/Summary:
In The Beginning of the World in Renaissance Jewish Thought, Brian Ogren deeply analyzes late fifteenth century Italian Jewish thought concerning the creation of the world and the beginning of time. Ogren examines uses of philosophy and Kabbalah in the thought of four important fifteenth century thinkers.
Demonstrates the impact of print culture on the spread of Jewish mysticism, focusing on Kabbalistic study guides by R. Yissakhar Baer of seventeenth-century Prague. How did Jewish mysticism go from arcane knowledge to popular spirituality? Kabbalah in Print examines the cultural impact of printing on the popularization, circulation, and transmission of Kabbalah in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries. The Zohar, in particular, generated a large secondary literature of study guides and reference works that aimed to ease the linguistic and conceptual challenges of the text. The arrival of printed classics of Kabbalah was soon followed by the appearance of new literary genres—anthologies, digests, lexicons, and other learning aids—that mediated mystical primary sources to a community of readers not versed in this lore. A detailed investigation of the four works by R. Yissakhar Baer (ca.1580–ca.1629) of Prague sheds light on the literary strategies, pedagogic concerns, and religious motivations of secondary elites, a new cadre of authors empowered by the opportunities that printing opened up. Andrea Gondos highlights shifting intellectual and cultural boundaries in the early modern period, when the transmission of Kabbalah became a meeting point connecting various strata of Jewish society as well as Jewish and Christian intellectuals. Andrea Gondos is Emmy Noether Postdoctoral Fellow at the Institute of Jewish Studies at Free University Berlin, Germany. She is the coeditor (with Daniel Maoz) of From Antiquity to the Postmodern World: Contemporary Jewish Studies in Canada.
This volume offers a narrative history of modern Kabbalah, from the sixteenth century to the present. Covering all sub-periods, schools, and figures, Jonathan Garb demonstrates how Kabbalah expanded over the last few centuries, and how it became an important player, first in the European, subsequently in global cultural and intellectual domains. Indeed, study of the Kabbalah can be found on virtually every continent and in many languages, despite of the destruction of many centres in the mid-twentieth century. Garb explores the sociological, psychological, scholastic and ritual dimensions of kabbalistic ways of life in their geographical and cultural contexts. Focusing on several important mystical and literary figures, he shows how modern Kabbalah is both deeply embedded in modern Jewish life, yet has become an independent, professionalized sub-world. He also traces how Kabbalah was influenced by, and contributed to the process of modernization.
Before the Enlightenment, before Spinoza had rejected traditional beliefs about the Bible, came the humanistic skeptics of the Renaissance. Alongside oft-cited Christian thinkers, Eliezer Eilburg now takes his rightful place. Comparable in view to Christopher Marlowe or Noel Journet, Eilburg perhaps uniquely represents the possibilities of Jewish skepticism in his day. Eliezer Eilburg: The Ten Questions and Memoir of a Renaissance Jewish Skeptic makes available for the first time a bilingual edition of two key works by the Jewish rationalist skeptic, kabbalist, and memoirist, Eliezer Eilburg. The Ten Questions-addressed to the Maharal of Prague and two of his colleagues-is one of the most radical statements of Jewish skepticism authored during the sixteenth century. Published here in its entirety, this text is especially remarkable for its critical approach to the Bible, foreshadowing later intellectual trends. Although many of his opinions were considered heretical by Jewish authorities, Eilburg argued that his doubts were innocent, and that there was room within Judaism for his skepticism. He presented himself as a penitent whose eyes had been opened through the study of medicine and philosophy and who had merited angelic visions and kabbalistic dreams. The second text, Eilburg's experimental memoir, is one of the very first modern Jewish efforts at autobiography. Put together from many smaller pieces, this patchwork of brag and bile is a unique document of sixteenth-century Jewish life. It is a testimony, if not to the "emergence of the individual" in this period, then at least to the emergence of new Jewish ways of imagining and writing about the self. Eilburg was an enigmatic man, a unique and as yet mostly unstudied Jewish thinker. Though his works are directed to audiences of Jews, and argue for the improvement of Judaism, this volume will appeal to historians and scholars of intellectual traditions both in and outside of Jewish studies.
Book History of Jewish Philosophy Description/Summary:
Jewish philosophy is often presented as an addendum to Jewish religion rather than as a rich and varied tradition in its own right, but the History of Jewish Philosophy explores the entire scope and variety of Jewish philosophy from philosophical interpretations of the Bible right up to contemporary Jewish feminist and postmodernist thought. The links between Jewish philosophy and its wider cultural context are stressed, building up a comprehensive and historically sensitive view of Jewish philosophy and its place in the development of philosophy as a whole. Includes: · Detailed discussions of the most important Jewish philosophers and philosophical movements · Descriptions of the social and cultural contexts in which Jewish philosophical thought developed throughout the centuries · Contributions by 35 leading scholars in the field, from Britain, Canada, Israel and the US · Detailed and extensive bibliographies
While many scholars have noted Martin Heidegger's indebtedness to Christian mystical sources, as well as his affinity with Taoism and Buddhism, Elliot R. Wolfson expands connections between Heidegger's thought and kabbalistic material. By arguing that the Jewish esoteric tradition impacted Heidegger, Wolfson presents an alternative way of understanding the history of Western philosophy. Wolfson's comparison between Heidegger and kabbalah sheds light on key concepts such as hermeneutics, temporality, language, and being and nothingness, while yielding surprising reflections on their common philosophical ground. Given Heidegger's involvement with National Socialism and his use of antisemitic language, these innovative readings are all the more remarkable for their juxtaposition of incongruent fields of discourse. Wolfson's entanglement with Heidegger and kabbalah not only enhances understandings of both but, more profoundly, serves as an ethical corrective to their respective ethnocentrism and essentialism. Wolfson masterfully illustrates the redemptive capacity of thought to illuminate common ground in seemingly disparate philosophical traditions.
Book The World of a Renaissance Jew Description/Summary:
Within the Italian city states of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, a relatively high degree of mutual tolerance and tranquility existed between the enlightened Christian majority and the small Jewish minority. With the prevalence of favorable political, social, and economic circumstances for Jewish life in Italy, a considerable number of Jews participated freely in Renaissance culture while upholding an intense awareness of their own particular identity. This work is a study of the life and thought of one such Jew, Abraham b. Mordecai Farissol (1452-ca. 1528). While born in Avignon, Farissol spent most of his life in Italy close to the cultural centers of Renaissance society, primarily in Ferrara, but also in Mantua, Florence, and other Italian cities. As scribe, educator, cantor, communal leader, polemicist, Biblical exegete, and geographer, Farissol developed variegated interests and associations which provide exciting vantage points from which to view his cultural and social world. As one of the first comprehensive studies of any Italian Jewish figure of the period, this book represents an important contribution to an understanding of Jewish society and culture. But the significance of this study of Farissol's life extends beyond what can be learned about the man and his immediate community of co-religionists. Utilizing the life and thought of one person, it explores and explicates the dialogue between Judaism and the culture of the Italian Renaissance. Despite its intrinsic interest, Jewish intellectual history in the Renaissance has remained an underdeveloped field. Many sources still remain unexamined; monographs on specific themes and figures have yet to be written. David Ruderman's study breaks new ground by making use of extensive, yet previously unpublished sources on Farissol and his society and by integrating them into the broader context of Jewish and Renaissance culture. The work is of particular interest to historians of the Jews and of Renaissance Italy. It also offers the general reader an excellent case study of the symbiotic relationship between Western culture and its Jewish minority in one of the most fertile periods of European civilization. In dramatic fashion it illustrates how Jews not only survived but creatively flourished in a pluralistic setting by appropriating from the outside new forms and ideas which they integrated into their own vital cultural experience.
Book Jews in the Early Modern World Description/Summary:
Jews in the Early Modern World presents a comparative and global history of the Jews for the early modern period, 1400-1700. It traces the remarkable demographic changes experienced by Jews around the globe and assesses the impact of those changes on Jewish communal and social structures, religious and cultural practices, and relations with non-Jews.
Book The New Testament and Intellectual Humility Description/Summary:
This study examines how the New Testament scriptures might form and foster intellectual humility within Christian communities. It is informed by recent interdisciplinary interest in intellectual humility, and concerned to appreciate the distinctive representations of the virtue offered by the New Testament writers on their own terms. It argues that the intellectual virtue is cast as a particular expression of the broader Christian virtue of humility, something which itself proceeds from the believer's union with Christ, through which personal identity is reconstituted by the operation of the Holy Spirit. This demands that we speak of 'virtue' in ways determined by the acting presence of Jesus Christ that overcomes sin and evil in human lives and in the world. The Christian account of the intellectual virtue of humility is framed by this conflict, as the minds of believers who live together within the Christian community struggle with natural arrogance and selfishness, and come to share in the mind of Christ. The new identity that emerges creates a fresh openness to truth, as the capacity of the sinful mind to distort truth is exposed and challenged. This affects not just knowledge and perception, but also volition: for these ancient writers, a humble mind makes good decisions that reflect judgements decisively shaped by the sacrificial love of Jesus Christ. By presenting 'humility of mind' as a characteristic of the One who is worshipped—Jesus Christ—the New Testament writers insist that we acknowledge the virtue not just as an admission of human deficiency or limitation, but as a positive affirmation of our rightful place within the divine economy.
Through the theme of metempsychosis as discussed by scholars in Renaissance Italy, this book addresses the problematic question of the roles of Jews who lived in Italy in the development of Renaissance culture in its Jewish and its Christian dimensions.
Book Essential Papers on Jewish Culture in Renaissance and Baroque Italy Description/Summary:
2007 Choice Outstanding Academic Title At the funeral of Matthew Shepard—the young Wyoming man brutally murdered for being gay—the Reverend Fred Phelps led his parishioners in protest, displaying signs with slogans like “Matt Shepard rots in Hell,” “Fags Die God Laughs,” and “God Hates Fags.” In counter-protest, activists launched an “angel action,” dressing in angel costumes, with seven-foot high wings, and creating a visible barrier so one would not have to see the hateful signs. Though long thought of as one of the most virulently anti-gay genres of contemporary American politics and culture, in God Hates Fags, Michael Cobb maintains that religious discourses have curiously figured as the most potent and pervasive forms of queer expression and activism throughout the twentieth century. Cobb focuses on how queers have assumed religious rhetoric strategically to respond to the violence done against them, alternating close readings of writings by James Baldwin, Tennessee Williams, Jean Toomer, Dorothy Allison, and Stephen Crane with critical legal and political analyses of Supreme Court Cases and anti-gay legislation. He also pays deep attention to the political strategies, public declarations, websites, interviews, and other media made by key religious right organizations that have mounted the most successful regulations and condemnations of homosexuality.
Book Kabbalah and the Founding of America Description/Summary:
Explores the influence of Kabbalah in shaping America’s religious identity In 1688, a leading Quaker thinker and activist in what is now New Jersey penned a letter to one of his closest disciples concerning Kabbalah, or what he called the mystical theology of the Jews. Around that same time, one of the leading Puritan ministers developed a messianic theology based in part on the mystical conversion of the Jews. This led to the actual conversion of a Jew in Boston a few decades later, an event that directly produced the first kabbalistic book conceived of and published in America. That book was read by an eventual president of Yale College, who went on to engage in a deep study of Kabbalah that would prod him to involve the likes of Benjamin Franklin, and to give a public oration at Yale in 1781 calling for an infusion of Kabbalah and Jewish thought into the Protestant colleges of America. Kabbalah and the Founding of America traces the influence of Kabbalah on early Christian Americans. It offers a new picture of Jewish-Christian intellectual exchange in pre-Revolutionary America, and illuminates how Kabbalah helped to shape early American religious sensibilities. The volume demonstrates that key figures, including the well-known Puritan ministers Cotton Mather and Increase Mather and Yale University President Ezra Stiles, developed theological ideas that were deeply influenced by Kabbalah. Some of them set out to create a more universal Kabbalah, developing their ideas during a crucial time of national myth building, laying down precedents for developing notions of American exceptionalism. This book illustrates how, through fascinating and often surprising events, this unlikely inter-religious influence helped shape the United States and American identity.
Book The Bible and Natural Philosophy in Renaissance Italy Description/Summary:
The Bible and Natural Philosophy in Renaissance Italy explores the reciprocal relationship between biblical interpretation and natural philosophy in sixteenth-century Italy. The book augments our knowledge of the manifold applications of medical expertise in the Renaissance and of the multiple ways in which the Bible was read by educated people who lacked theological training. Andrew D. Berns demonstrates that many physicians in sixteenth-century Italy, Jewish and Christian alike, took a keen interest in the Bible and post-biblical religious literature. Berns identifies the intellectual tools that Renaissance doctors and natural philosophers brought to bear on their analysis of the Bible and assesses how their education and professional experience helped them acquire, develop, and use those tools. The Bible and Natural Philosophy in Renaissance Italy argues that the changing nature of medical culture in the Renaissance inspired physicians to approach the Bible not only as a divine work but also as a historical and scientific text.
Book Kabbalah in Italy, 1280-1510 Description/Summary:
This survey of the history of Kabbalah in Italy represents a major contribution from one of the world's foremost Kabbalah scholars. Idel charts the ways that Kabbalistic thought and literature developed in Italy and how its unique geographical situation facilitated the arrival of both Spanish and Byzantine Kabbalah.
Book The Reasons for the Commandments in Jewish Thought Description/Summary:
This classic work by early 20th-century Jewish humanist and scholar Isaac Heinemann surveys the crucial phases of Jewish thought concerning correct conduct as codified in the commandments. Heinemann provides his own systematic insights about the intellectual, emotional, pedagogical, and pragmatic reasoning advanced by the major Jewish thinkers. This book, translated here for the first time, covers Jewish thinkers from the Bible, rabbis, and Hellenistic philosophers through the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, including Saadiah, Halevi, Maimonides, Albo, and many others. Heinemann addresses such questions as: What were the biblical, rabbinic, medieval, and modern rationales offered for the commandments in the course of Jewish thought?
Book The Book of Job in Jewish Life and Thought Description/Summary:
Despite its general absence from the Jewish liturgical cycle and its limited place in Jewish practice, the Book of Job has permeated Jewish culture over the last 2,000 years. Job has not only had to endure the suffering described in the biblical book, but the efforts of countless commentators, interpreters, and creative rewriters whose explanations more often than not challenged the protagonist's righteousness in order to preserve Divine justice. Beginning with five critical essays on the specific efforts of ancient, medieval, and modern Jewish writers to make sense of the biblical book, this volume concludes with a detailed survey of the place of Job in the Talmud and Midrashic corpus, in medieval biblical commentary, in ethical, mystical, and philosophical tracts, as well as in poetry and creative writing in a wide variety of Jewish languages from around the world from the second to sixteenth centuries.