Italian Jewry in the Early Modern Era: Essays in Intellectual History

Italian Jewry in the Early Modern Era: Essays in Intellectual History


Alessandro Guetta

Series: Perspectives in Jewish Intellectual Life
ISBN: 9781618112088 (hardcover)
Pages: 300 pp.
Publication Date: April 2014

Add To Cart

Between the years 1550 and 1650, Italy's Jewish intellectuals created a unique and enduring synthesis of the great literary and philosophical heritage of the Andalusian Jews and the Renaissance`s renewal of perspective. While remaining faithful to the beliefs, behaviors, and language of their tradition, Italian Jews proved themselves open to a rapidly evolving world of great richness. The crisis of Aristotelianism (which progressively touched upon all fields of knowledge), religious fractures and unrest, the scientific revolution, and the new perception of reality expressed through a transformation of the visual arts: these are some of the changes experienced by Italian Jews which they were affected by in their own particular way. This book explores the complex relations between Jews and the world that surrounded them during a critical period of European civilization. The relations were rich, problematic, and in some cases strained, alternating between opposition and dialogue, osmosis and distinction.

Alessandro Guetta  is professor of Jewish thought at the Institut National des Langues et Civilisations Orientales. His publications include monographs on Niccolo Machiavelli (Invito alla lettura di Machiavelli, 1991) and philosopher and Kabbalist Elijah Benamozegh (Philosophy and Kabbalah: Elijah Benamozegh and the Reconciliation of Western Thought and Jewish Esotericism, 2009).

Nine momentous essays in intellectual history of Italian Jewry in the Early Modern Period, by one of the most skilled specialists of the field. Topics deal with a wide range of issues, such as philosophy, Kabbalah, humanism, politics, allegorical representations of space, and others. Although deeply scholarly, the well-designed approach of the author will undoubtedly fascinate many broadminded ordinary readers.
— Robert Bonfil, Emeritus Professor of Jewish History, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Alessandro Guetta is one of the leading scholars of the cultural history of Italian Jewry in early modern times today. Italian Jewry in the Early Modern Era brings together a fine collection of papers published over the last ten years, some of which were originally published in Italian and French, and now reproduced in an English translation. These nine studies, covering the period from the late fifteenth century to the early nineteenth century, focus on the diverse aspects of the process of modernization of Italian Jewish culture from the Renaissance until the Jewish Enlightenment.
— Abraham Melamed, Professor of Jewish History and Thought, University of Haifa

Table of Contents


1: From Philosophy to Kabbalah: Yeḥiyel Nissim of Pisa and the Critique of Aristotelianism
2: Can Fundamentalism be Modern? The Case of Avraham Portaleone, the Repentant Scientist
3: Allegorical Space and Geometrical Space: Representations of the Temple of Jerusalem in the Works of Italian Jewish Authors
4: The Myth of Politics in the Jewish Communities of the Italian City-States
5: A Link to Humanity: Judaism as Nation and Universal Religion
6: The Italian and Latin Works of Lazzaro da Viterbo, Sixteenth-Century Jewish Humanist
7: Leone Modena’s Magen we-ḥerev as an Anti-Catholic Apologia
8: The Immortality of the Soul and Opening Up to the Christian World
9: Kabbalah and Rationalism in the Works of Mosheh Ḥayyim Luzzatto and some Kabbalists of his time