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Andrea Schatz

The contributions to this volume trace for the first time how the modern Jewish reception of Josephus, the ancient historian, who witnessed and described the destruction of the Second Temple, took shape within different scholarly, religious, literary and political contexts across the Jewish world, from Amsterdam to Berlin, Vilna, Breslau, New York and Tel Aviv. The chapters show how the vagaries of his tumultuous life, spent between a small rebellious nation and the ruling circles of a vast empire, between Jewish and non-Jewish cultures, and between political action and historical reflection have been re-imagined by Jewish readers over the past three centuries in their attempts to make sense of their own times.
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Hebrew Literature and the 1948 War

Essays on Philology and Responsibility

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Hannan Hever

Hebrew Literature and the 1948 War: Essays on Philology and Responsibility is the first book-length study that examines the conspicuous absence of the Palestinian Nakba in modern Hebrew literature. Through a rigorous reading of canonical Hebrew literary texts, the author addresses the general failure of Hebrew literature to take responsibility for the Nakba. The book illustrates how the language of modern Hebrew poetry and fiction reflects symptoms of Israeli national violence, in which the literary language produces a picture of Palestine as an arena where the violent clash between the perpetrators and the victims takes place. In doing so, the author develops a new and critical paradigm for reflecting on the moral responsibility of literature and the ethics of reading. The book includes close readings of the works of Avot Yeshurun, S. Yizhar, Nathan Alterman, Yehuda Amichai, Yitzhak Laor, and Amos Oz, among others.

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Jewish Education from Antiquity to the Middle Ages

Studies in Honour of Philip S. Alexander

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Edited by George J. Brooke and Renate Smithuis

In Jewish Education from Antiquity to the Middle Ages fifteen scholars offer specialist studies on Jewish education from the areas of their expertise. This tightly themed volume in honour of Philip S. Alexander has some essays that look at individual manuscripts, some that consider larger literary corpora, and some that are more thematically organised.

Jewish education has been addressed largely as a matter of the study house, the bet midrash. Here a richer range of texts and themes discloses a wide variety of activity in several spheres of Jewish life. In addition, some notable non-Jewish sources provide a wider context for the discourse than is often the case.
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A Jewish Communist in Weimar Germany

The Life of Werner Scholem (1895 – 1940)

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Ralf Hoffrogge

Walter Benjamin derided Werner Scholem as a ‘rogue’ in 1924. Josef Stalin referred him as a ‘splendid man’, but soon backtracked and labeled him an ‘imbecile’, while Ernst Thälmann, chairman of the Communist Party of Germany (KPD), warned his followers against the dangers of ‘Scholemism’. For the philosopher and historian Gershom Scholem, however, Werner was first and foremost his older brother. The life of German-Jewish Communist Werner Scholem (1895–1940) had many facets. Werner and Gerhard, later Gershom, rebelled together against their authoritarian father and the atmosphere of national chauvinism engulfing Germany during World War I. After inspiring his younger brother to take up the Zionist cause, Werner himself underwent a long personal journey before deciding to join the Communist struggle. Scholem climbed the party ladder and orchestrated the KPD's ‘Bolshevisation’ campaign, only to be expelled as one of Stalin's opponents in 1926. He was arrested in 1933, and ultimately murdered in the Buchenwald concentration camp seven years later. This first biography of Werner Scholem tells his life story by drawing on a wide range of original sources and archive material long hidden beyond the Iron Curtain of the Cold War era.

First published in German by UVK Verlagsgesellschaft as Werner Scholem - eine politische Biographie (1895-1940), Konstanz, 2014.
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Abraham Ibn Ezra’s Introductions to Astrology

A Parallel Hebrew-English Critical Edition of the Book of the Beginning of Wisdom and the Book of the Judgments of the Zodiacal Signs. Abraham Ibn Ezra’s Astrological Writings, Volume 5

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Shlomo Sela

The present volume offers a critical edition of the Hebrew texts, accompanied by English translation and commentary of Reshit Ḥokhmah (Beginning of Wisdom) and Mishpeṭei ha-Mazzalot (Judgments of the Zodiacal Signs) by Abraham Ibn Ezra (ca. 1089–ca. 1161). The first, the summa and by far the longest of his astrological works, the target of the most cross-references from the rest of that corpus and the most influential, enjoyed the widest circulation among Jews in the Middle Ages and after. The second, by contrast, is the most obscure. It is never referred to elsewhere by its author and is the only work for which Ibn Ezra’s authorship must be substantiated. Reshit Ḥokhmah and Mishpeṭei ha-Mazzalot were written in order to explain concepts common to the various branches of astrology that Ibn Ezra addressed elsewhere and to elucidate the worldview that underlies astrology. These two treatises are the richest and most varied with regard to the astrological information they present. Reshit Ḥokhmah and Mishpeṭei ha-Mazzalot also exemplify the close collaboration between astronomy and astrology in medieval science and are the two components of Ibn Ezra’s astrological corpus with the most extensive, comprehensive, and significant astronomical content.
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Fighting Over the Bible

Jewish Interpretation, Sectarianism and Polemic from Temple to Talmud and Beyond

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Isaac Kalimi

Fighting over the Bible explores the bitter conflicts between main stream Jews and their internal and external opponents, especially between particular Jewish groups such as Pharisees, Sadducees, Qumranites, Samaritans, Rabbanites and Karaites, as well as with Christians and Muslims regarding their interpretations of Jewish Scripture. The Hebrew Bible/Old Testament is an important sacred text for all branches of the Abrahamic faiths, but it has more often divided than unified them. This volume explores and exemplifies the roots of these interpretive conflicts and controversies and traces the rich exegetical and theological approaches that grew out of them. Focusing on the Jewish sources from the late Second Temple period through the high Middle-Ages, it illustrates how the study of the Bible filled the vacuum left by the Temple’s destruction, and became the foundation of Jewish life throughout its long conflicted history.
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Akim Volynsky

A Hidden Russian-Jewish Prophet

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Helen Tolstoy

In Akim Volynsky: A Hidden Russian-Jewish Prophet Helen Tolstoy goes far beyond the accepted image of Akim Volynsky as a controversial literary critic of the 1890s who ran the first journal of Russian Symbolists, promoted philosophic idealism and proposed the first modernist reading of Dostoevsky. This book, through the study of periodicals and archive materials, offers a new view of Volynsky as a champion of Symbolist theater, supporter of Jewish playwrights, an ardent partisan of Habima theater and finally, a theoretician of Jewish theater. Throughout his life, Volynsky was a seeker of a Jewish-Christian synthesis, both religious and moral. His grand universalist view made him the first to see the true value of leading Russian writers – his contemporaries Tolstoy and Dostoevsky.
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Walter Homolka

Historical Jesus research, Jewish or Christian, is marked by the search for origins and authenticity. The various Quests for the Historical Jesus contributed to a crisis of identity within Western Christianity. The result was a move “back to the Jewish roots!”
For Jewish scholars it was a means to position Jewry within a dominantly Christian culture. As a consequence, Jews now feel more at ease to relate to Jesus as a Jew.
For Walter Homolka the Christian challenge now is to formulate a new Christology: between a Christian exclusivism that denies the universality of God, and a pluralism that endangers the specificity of the Christian understanding of God and the uniqueness of religious traditions, including that of Christianity.
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Katharina E. Keim

In Pirqei deRabbi Eliezer: Structure, Coherence, Intertextuality Katharina E. Keim offers a description of the literary character of Pirqei deRabbi Eliezer, an enigmatic work of the late-eighth-to-early-ninth centuries CE. Katharina E. Keim explores the work’s distinctive literary features through an analysis of its structure and coherence. These literary features, when taken together with the work’s intertextual relationships with antecedent and contemporaneous Christian and Jewish (rabbinic and non-rabbinic) texts, reveal Pirqei deRabbi Eliezer to be an innovative work, and throw light on a new turn in Jewish literature following the rise of Islam.
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Edited by Hava Tirosh-Samuelson and Aaron W. Hughes

David Shatz is the Ronald P. Stanton University Professor of Philosophy, Ethics, and Religious Thought at Yeshiva University. With rabbinic ordination earned at Yeshiva University and a Ph.D. with distinction in philosophy from Columbia University, Shatz is committed to integrating Judaism and secular wisdom. An analytic philosopher as well as a Jewish philosopher, he has written extensively on free will, ethics, epistemology, medieval and modern Jewish philosophy, and philosophy of religion. His writings cover such topics as autonomy, altruism, philosophical skepticism, science and Judaism, peer review, theodicy, biblical interpretation, Maimonides, modern rabbinic figures, messianism, fanaticism, religious diversity, and theology. Shatz is also editor of the MeOtzar HoRav series, which publishes manuscripts of Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik, and is editor of the Torah u-Madda Journal.