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Look Inside Judaism and Enlightenment

Judaism and Enlightenment

Part of Ideas in Context

  • Date Published: November 2005
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9780521672320

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About the Authors
  • This study investigates the philosophical and political significance of Judaism in the intellectual life of seventeenth and eighteenth century Europe. Adam Sutcliffe shows how the widespread and enthusiastic fascination with Judaism prevalent around 1650 was largely eclipsed a century later by attitudes of dismissal and disdain. He argues that Judaism was uniquely difficult for Enlightenment thinkers to account for, and that their intense responses, both negative and positive, to Jewish topics are central to an understanding of the underlying ambiguities of the Enlightenment itself. Judaism and the Jews were a limit case, a destabilising challenge, and a constant test for Enlightenment rationalism. Erudite and highly broad-ranging in its sources, and yet extremely accessible in its argument, Judaism and Enlightenment is a major contribution to the history of European ideas, of interest to scholars of Jewish history and to those working on the Enlightenment, toleration and the emergence of modernity itself.

    • Major study of one of the defining themes of Enlightenment
    • Widely and favourably reviewed in prominent places (e.g. NYRB) on initial hardback publication
    • Very substantial Jewish studies audience, in addition to historians of ideas
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    Reviews & endorsements

    '… passionate, well informed and eloquent …' Anthony Grafton, The New York Review of Books

    'Adam Sutcliffe's book...shows immense learning, elegant prose, and a nuanced and sophisticated understanding of the Enlightenment project as well as the place of Judaism in the consciousness of its primary and less primary exponents.' David Ruderman in the Jewish Quarterly Review

    'Not only new but startling.' Sander Gilman in The Chronicle of Higher Education

    'In keeping with the best tradition of the history of ideas, Sutcliffe's impressive, comprehensive study methodically presents many texts, scholars and thinkers … Sutcliffe's book is an important work for students of the Enlightenment, and one that makes a significant contribution to the intellectual history of Europe in the early modern era. A scholarly, profound and thought-provoking book, it is the best treatment until now of the varied issues by the subject of Judaism and the Enlightenment.' European History Quarterly

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    Product details

    • Date Published: November 2005
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9780521672320
    • length: 338 pages
    • dimensions: 228 x 161 x 21 mm
    • weight: 0.5kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    Introduction: disentangling Judaism and Enlightenment
    Part I. The Crumbling of Old Certainties: Judaism, the Bible and the Meaning of History:
    1. The crisis and decline of Christian Hebraism
    2. Hebraic politics: Respublica Mosaiaca
    3. Meaning and method: Jewish history, world history
    4. The limits of erudition: Jacques Basnage and Pierre Bayle
    Part II. Judaism and the Formation of Enlightenment Radicalism:
    5. Religious dissent and debate in Sephardi Amsterdam
    6. Judaism in Spinoza and his circle
    7. Spinoza: Messiah of the Enlightenment?
    8. Enlightenment and Kabbalah
    9. Judaism, reason and the critique of religion
    Part III. Judaism, Nationhood and the Politics of Enlightenment:
    10. Utopianism, Republicanism, Cosmopolitanism
    11. Judaism and the invention of toleration
    12. The ambiguities of Enlightenment: Voltaire and the Jews
    Conclusion: reason versus myth?

  • Author

    Adam Sutcliffe, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
    Adam Sutcliffe is Chaim Lopata Assistant Professor of European Jewish History at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

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