What a difference a peninsula makes! In Iberia of the late 15th and 16th centuries, Jews lived only as conversos, far more concerned with preserving their lives, property and freedom than with the pursuit of a vivid intellectual life. In Italy of the same period, Jews lived among Christians, read many of the same books and fully participated in the life of the mind. Take, for example, the Jewish translator and philosopher Elijah Delmedigo (1440 – 1497), who could simultaneously be one of the foremost explicators of the great Moslem philosopher Averroes and argue heatedly with humanist Pico della Mirandola on the falsities he perceived in Christianity.
Ruderman and Veltri have called together 12 important scholars from Israel, Europe and America to discuss ten seminal figures of the time, and through examination of their lives and work to reach new conclusions about the importance of cross – cultural currents. These are, in many cases, highly scholarly articles, written for the initiated and not the general reader. However, with its excellent bibliography, and the stature of its authors, the book will prove useful to students of the early modern period.