Cul­tur­al Inter­me­di­aries: Jew­ish Intel­lec­tu­als in Ear­ly Mod­ern Italy

David B. Rud­er­man; Giuseppe Vel­tri, eds.
  • Review
By – September 24, 2012

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.

Jeff Bogursky reads a lot, writes a lit­tle and talks quite a bit. He is a media exec­u­tive and expert in dig­i­tal media.

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