Judah Halevi’s Book of the Kuzari is a defense of Judaism that has enjoyed an almost continuous transmission since its composition in the twelfth century. By surveying the activities of readers, commentators, copyists, and printers for more than 700 years, Adam Shear examines the ways that the Kuzari became a classic of Jewish thought. Today, the Kuzari is usually understood as the major statement of an anti-rationalist and ethnocentric approach to Judaism and is often contrasted with the rationalism and universalism of Maimonides’s Guide of the Perplexed. But this conception must be seen as a modern construction, and the reception history of the Kuzari demonstrates that many earlier readers of the work understood it as offering a way toward reconciling reason and faith and of negotiating between particularism and universalism.
Introduction; 1. Texts and contexts: pre-modern dissemination and transmission; 2. The image and function of the Kuzari in the Late Middle Ages; 3. The Kuzari in Renaissance Italy; 4. Judah Moscato's project and the making of an authoritative work; 5. The image and function of the Kuzari in early modern Europe; 6. The creation of an Enlightenment Kuzari; 7. Continuity and change in the nineteenth century; Conclusion: the emergence of late modern dichotomies.
"...high scientific quality...[Shear's] history of reception of Judah Halevi's Sefer ha-Kuzari is a wonderful journey through the centuries of Jewish culture in its various geographical and historical contexts. Adam Shear's study provides remarkable new insight into the history of Sefer ha-Kuzari and will be a fundamental work of reference for every future inquiry on Judah Halevi. --European Journal of Jewish Studies
"Shear's work effectively shows how the life and vitality implicit in Halevi's argumentation and verbal artistry could generate a long afterlife for the _Kuzari_, which continues even today. Within the framework of its own subject matter, Shear's innovative study will likely stimulate renewed interest in the _Kuzari _among scholars and students of Jewish cultural and intellectual history as well a historians of Jewish philosophy and theology. ...Shear's multifaceted approach can and should serve as a model of what can be achieved, for an even wider audience of thoughtful and attentive readers." --H-Judaic (June, 2011)
"Adam Shear's study provides a remarkable new insight into the history of Sefer ha- Kuzari and will be a fundamental work of reference for every future inquiry on Judah Halevi. --European Journal of Jewish Studies