Wisdom’s Little Sister: Studies in Medieval and Renaissance Jewish Political Thought

Wisdom’s Little Sister: Studies in Medieval and Renaissance Jewish Political Thought

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Abraham Melamed

Series: Emunot: Jewish Philosophy and Kabbalah
ISBN: 9781936235322
Pages: 432 pp.
Publication Date: February 2012

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The study of Jewish political philosophy is a recently established field in the study of Jewish philosophy. While in older histories of Jewish philosophy there is hardly any discussion of this topic, recent editors of such books have found it useful to add chapters on it. Following the pioneering efforts of Leo Strauss, Ralph Lerner and Daniel Elazar, among others, political philosophy has gained its proper place alongside ethics and metaphysics in the study of the history of Jewish philosophy. This volume is another manifestation of this welcome development. Consisting of selected English-language papers the author published over the last thirty years, it concentrates on the Medieval and Renaissance periods, from Sa’adiah Gaon in the tenth century to Spinoza in the seventeenth. These were the formative periods in the development of Jewish political philosophy, when Jewish scholars versed in the canonical Jewish sources (biblical and rabbinic) encountered Greek political philosophy, as transmitted by Muslim philosophers such as Alfarabi, Ibn Bajja and Averroes, and adapted it to their Jewish terms of reference. The outcome of this effort was Jewish political philosophy.


Abraham Melamed (PhD Tel-Aviv University) is Professor of Jewish Philosophy and holds the Wolfson Chair for the study of the Jewish Cultural Heritage at the University of Haifa, Israel. He has published numerous studies, mainly concentrating on Medieval and Renaissance Jewish intellectual history, history of ideas and political philosophy. His most recent books include The Black in Jewish Culture (Routledge, 2003); On the Shoulders of Giants: A History of the Debate between Moderns and Ancients in Medieval and Early Modern Jewish Thought (Bar-Ilan University Press, 2003); The Myth of the Jewish Origins of Science and Philosophy (Haifa University Press, 2010); and Medieval Jewish Political Philosophy (Hebrew, forthcoming).

Table of Contents


Personal Introduction
On This Volume


Part I: The Framework
Chapter One: Is There a Jewish Political Philosophy?: The Medieval Case Reconsidered
Chapter Two: Medieval and Renaissance Jewish Political Philosophy: An Overview
Part II: Studies: The Middle Ages
Chapter Three: Aristotle’s Politics in Medieval and Renaissance Jewish Political Thought
Chapter Four: The Attitude towards Democracy in Medieval Jewish Political Thought
Chapter Five: The Organic Theory of the State in Medieval and Renaissance Jewish Political Thought
Chapter Six: Jethro’s Advice in Medieval and Early Modern Jewish and Christian Political Thought
Chapter Seven: The Anonymous Hebrew Translation of Aegidius’ De Regimine Principum: An Unknown Chapter in Medieval Jewish Political Philosophy
Part III: Studies: The Renaissance
Chapter Eight: The Myth of Venice in Italian Renaissance Jewish Thought
Chapter Nine: Natural, Human, Divine: Classification of the Law among Some Fifteenth- and Sixteenth-Century Italian Jewish Thinkers
Chapter Ten: The Hebrew Laudatio of Yohanan Alemanno: In Praise of Lorenzo il Magnifico and the Florentine Constitution
Chapter Eleven: Simone Luzzatto on Tacitus: Apologetica and Ragione di Stato
Chapter Twelve: English Travellers and Venetian Jewish Scholars: The Case of Simone Luzzatto and James Harrington
Chapter Thirteen: Machiavellism and Anti-Machiavellism in Seventeenth-Century Jewish Amsterdam: From Ragione di Stato to Razon de Estado

Works Cited
Index