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David B. Ruderman - Author

About the Author

Books by David B. Ruderman

A Best-Selling Hebrew Book of the Modern Era The <i>Book of the Covenant</i> of Pinhas Hurwitz and Its Remarkable Legacy

A Best-Selling Hebrew Book of the Modern Era The Book of the Covenant of Pinhas Hurwitz and Its Remarkable Legacy

Author: David B. Ruderman Format: Hardback Release Date: 31/10/2014

In 1797, in what is now the Czech Republic, Pinhas Hurwitz published one of the best-selling Hebrew books of the modern era. Nominally an extended commentary on a sixteenth-century kabbalist text, The Book of the Covenant was in fact a compendium of scientific knowledge and a manual of moral behavior. Its popularity stemmed from its ability to present the scientific advances and moral cosmopolitanism of its day in the context of Jewish legal and mystical tradition. Describing the latest developments in science and philosophy in the sacred language of Hebrew, Hurwitz argued that an intellectual understanding of the cosmos was not at odds with but actually key to achieving spiritual attainment. In A Best-Selling Hebrew Book of the Modern Era, David B. Ruderman offers a literary and intellectual history of Hurwitz's book and its legacy. Hurwitz not only wrote the book, but was instrumental in selling it as well and his success ultimately led to the publication of more than forty editions in Hebrew, Ladino, and Yiddish. Ruderman provides a multidimensional picture of the book and the intellectual tradition it helped to inaugurate. Complicating accounts that consider modern Jewish thought to be the product of a radical break from a religious, mystical past, Ruderman shows how, instead, a complex continuity shaped Jewish society's confrontation with modernity.

Jewish Enlightenment in an English Key Anglo-Jewry's Construction of Modern Jewish Thought

Jewish Enlightenment in an English Key Anglo-Jewry's Construction of Modern Jewish Thought

Author: David B. Ruderman Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 24/06/2012

Historians of the European Jewish experience have long marginalized the intellectual achievement of Jews in England, where it was assumed no seminal figures contributed to the development of modern Jewish thought. In this first comprehensive account of the emergence of Anglo-Jewish thought in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, David Ruderman impels a reconsideration of the formative beginnings of modern European Jewish culture. He uncovers a vibrant Jewish intellectual life in England during the Enlightenment era by examining a small but fascinating group of hitherto neglected Jewish thinkers in the process of transforming their traditional Hebraic culture into a modern English one. This lively portrait of English Jews reformulating their tradition in light of Enlightenment categories illuminates an overlooked corner in the history of Jewish culture in England and Jewish thought during the Enlightenment. Ruderman overturns the conventional view that the origins of modern Jewish consciousness are located exclusively within the German-Jewish experience, particularly Moses Mendelssohn's circle. Independent of the better-known German experience, the encounter between Jewish and English thought was incubated amid the unprecedented freedom enjoyed by Jews in England. This resulted in a less inhibited defense of Jews and Judaism. In addition to the original and prolific thinkers David Levi and Abraham Tang, Ruderman introduces Abraham and Joshua Van Oven, Mordechai Shnaber Levison, Samuel Falk, Isaac Delgado, Solomon Bennett, Hyman Hurwitz, Emanuel Mendes da Costa, Ralph Shomberg, and others. Of obvious appeal and import to students of Jewish and English history, this study depicts the challenge of defining a religious identity in the modern age.

Early Modern Jewry A New Cultural History

Early Modern Jewry A New Cultural History

Author: David B. Ruderman Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 25/07/2011

Early Modern Jewry boldly offers a new history of the early modern Jewish experience. From Krakow and Venice to Amsterdam and Smyrna, David Ruderman examines the historical and cultural factors unique to Jewish communities throughout Europe, and how these distinctions played out amidst the rest of society. Looking at how Jewish settlements in the early modern period were linked to one another in fascinating ways, he shows how Jews were communicating with each other and were more aware of their economic, social, and religious connections than ever before. Ruderman explores five crucial and powerful characteristics uniting Jewish communities: a mobility leading to enhanced contacts between Jews of differing backgrounds, traditions, and languages, as well as between Jews and non-Jews; a heightened sense of communal cohesion throughout all Jewish settlements that revealed the rising power of lay oligarchies; a knowledge explosion brought about by the printing press, the growing interest in Jewish books by Christian readers, an expanded curriculum of Jewish learning, and the entrance of Jewish elites into universities; a crisis of rabbinic authority expressed through active messianism, mystical prophecy, radical enthusiasm, and heresy; and the blurring of religious identities, impacting such groups as conversos, Sabbateans, individual converts to Christianity, and Christian Hebraists. In describing an early modern Jewish culture, Early Modern Jewry reconstructs a distinct epoch in history and provides essential background for understanding the modern Jewish experience.

Connecting the Covenants Judaism and the Search for Christian Identity in Eighteenth-Century England

Connecting the Covenants Judaism and the Search for Christian Identity in Eighteenth-Century England

Author: David B. Ruderman Format: Hardback Release Date: 06/06/2007

The first few decades of the eighteenth century witnessed an important moment in Jewish-Christian relations, as influential Christian scholars increasingly looked to Jewish texts to reveal the truths of their own faith. To what extent could postbiblical writings help them better understand the New Testament? And who would best be able to explicate these connections? Connecting the Covenants focuses on two separate but entwined stories, the first centering around the colorful character of Moses Marcus. The English-born son of wealthy parents and the grandson of the famous autobiographical author Glikl of Hameln, Marcus was a prominent Jew educated in the Ashkenazic yeshivah at Hamburg. On New Year's Day, 1723, Marcus was baptized as a Christian, later publishing a justification of his conversion and a vindication of his newly discovered faith in a small book in London. A trophy convert, he was promoted by figures at the highest levels of the Anglican Church as a cultural mediator between Judaism and Christianity. His modest successes in the world of the elite clerical establishment were followed, however, by conspicuous failures, both intellectual and material. The second story that David Ruderman tells emerges against the background of Marcus's professional decline. In the end, the prize convert proved to be a theologian of limited ability, far outstripped in sophistication and openness to rabbinic learning by a circle of Enlightenment Protestant scholars. It was not the Jew who had abjured Judaism who was willing or able to apply the Mishnah and Talmud to Christian exegesis, but figures such as William Whiston, Anthony Collins, William Wotton, and the Dutch scholar William Surenhusius who seized upon the ways to connect the covenants.

Cultural Intermediaries Jewish Intellectuals in Early Modern Italy

Cultural Intermediaries Jewish Intellectuals in Early Modern Italy

Author: David B. Ruderman Format: Hardback Release Date: 26/03/2004

Focusing on an epoch of spectacular demographic, political, economic, and cultural changes for European Jewry, Cultural Intermediaries chronicles the lives and thinking of ten Jewish intellectuals of the Renaissance, nine of them from Italy and one a Portuguese exile who settled in the Ottoman empire after a long sojourn in Italy. David B. Ruderman, Giuseppe Veltri, and the other contributors to this volume detail how, in the relative openness of cultural exchange encountered in such intellectual centers as Florence, Mantua, Pisa, Naples, Ferrara, and Salonika, these Jewish savants sought to enlarge their cultural horizons, to correlate the teachings of their own tradition with those outside it, and to rethink the meaning of their religious and ethnic identities within the intellectual and religious categories common to European civilization as a whole. The engaging intellectual profiles created especially for this volume by scholars from Israel, North America, and Europe represent an important rereading and reinterpretation of early modern Jewish culture and society and its broader European intellectual contexts.

Jewish Thought and Scientific Discovery in Early Modern Europe

Jewish Thought and Scientific Discovery in Early Modern Europe

Author: David B. Ruderman, Moshe Idel Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 31/03/2001

This book is a sally into the scientific dimension of Jewish intellectual history in the early modern world, dealing with many key personalities and topics in a novel way. Included are thumbnail sketches of stoicism, iatrochemistry and pantheism, in addition to reviews of the major issues in the Jewish historiography of the period. It offers comprehensive treatment of the impact of the scientific revolution on Jewish culture in early modern Europe and should be of value not only to students of Jewish intellectual history of this period, but also more generally to anyone interested in European cultural history or the history of medicine.

Jewish Enlightenment in an English Key Anglo-Jewry's Construction of Modern Jewish Thought

Jewish Enlightenment in an English Key Anglo-Jewry's Construction of Modern Jewish Thought

Author: David B. Ruderman Format: Hardback Release Date: 09/10/2000

Historians of the European Jewish experience have long marginalized the intellectual achievement of Jews in England, where it was assumed no seminal figures contributed to the development of modern Jewish thought. In this first comprehensive account of the emergence of Anglo-Jewish thought in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, David Ruderman impels a reconsideration of the formative beginnings of modern European Jewish culture. He uncovers a vibrant Jewish intellectual life in England during the Enlightenment era by examining a small but fascinating group of hitherto neglected Jewish thinkers in the process of transforming their traditional Hebraic culture into a modern English one. This lively portrait of English Jews reformulating their tradition in light of Enlightenment categories illuminates an overlooked corner in the history of Jewish culture in England and Jewish thought during the Enlightenment. Ruderman overturns the conventional view that the origins of modern Jewish consciousness are located exclusively within the German-Jewish experience, particularly Moses Mendelssohn's circle. Independent of the better-known German experience, the encounter between Jewish and English thought was incubated amid the unprecedented freedom enjoyed by Jews in England. This resulted in a less inhibited defense of Jews and Judaism. In addition to the original and prolific thinkers David Levi and Abraham Tang, Ruderman introduces Abraham and Joshua Van Oven, Mordechai Shnaber Levison, Samuel Falk, Isaac Delgado, Solomon Bennett, Hyman Hurwitz, Emanuel Mendes da Costa, Ralph Shomberg, and others. Of obvious appeal and import to students of Jewish and English history, this study depicts the challenge of defining a religious identity in the modern age.

Preachers of the Italian Ghetto

Preachers of the Italian Ghetto

Author: David B. Ruderman Format: Hardback Release Date: 27/10/1992

By the mid-sixteenth century, Jews in the cities of Italy were being crowded into compulsory ghettos as a result of the oppressive policies of Pope Paul IV and his successors. The sermons of Jewish preachers during this period provide a remarkable vantage point from which to view the early modern Jewish social and cultural landscape. In this eloquent collection, six leading scholars of Italian Jewish history reveal the important role of these preachers: men who served as a bridge between the ghetto and the Christian world outside, between old and new conventions, and between elite and popular modes of thought. The story of how they reflected and shaped the culture of their listeners, who felt the pressure of cramped urban life as well as of political, economic, and religious persecution, is finally beginning to be told. Through the words of the Italian ghetto preachers, we discover a richly textured panorama of Jewish life more than 400 years ago.

Essential Papers on Jewish Culture in Renaissance and Baroque Italy

Essential Papers on Jewish Culture in Renaissance and Baroque Italy

Author: David B. Ruderman Format: Hardback Release Date: 31/10/1991

This book represents a sample of the most penetrating Jewish movements.

Essential Papers on Jewish Culture in Renaissance and Baroque Italy

Essential Papers on Jewish Culture in Renaissance and Baroque Italy

Author: David B. Ruderman Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 31/10/1991

This book represents a sample of the most penetrating Jewish movements.

A Valley of Vision The Heavenly Journey of Abraham ben Hananiah Yagel

A Valley of Vision The Heavenly Journey of Abraham ben Hananiah Yagel

Author: David B. Ruderman Format: Hardback Release Date: 01/01/1990

Abraham ben Hananiah Yagel 1553-c.1624) composed his Hebrew work Gei Hizzayon (A Valley of Vision) in Italy at the end of the sixteenth century. This striking text, so different from the other writings of the prolific physician, natural philosopher, and kabbalist, is first an autobiographical account of the vicissitudes of the author's years as a Jewish loan -banker. It is also a description of a heavenly journey he is taken on by the soul of his recently deceased father, who visits his son while he is imprisoned in Mantua for debt. Finally, it is a series of theological and moral discussions based on the insights of Judaism, particularly the kabbalah as understood by Yagel and his Italian contemporaries. A Valley of Vision is unique in Hebrew literature in its integration of traditional Jewish materials with contemporary literary and iconographic innovations. It is also a fascinating window into the social and cultural world of Italian Jewry at the end of the sixteenth century and its effect on the entire late Renaissance period. David B. Ruderman's is the first translation of this important work into any Western language. The book will be of great interest to both the specialist and the general reader of Jewish and late Renaissance history, thought, and literature.

Kabbalah, Magic and Science The Cultural Universe of a Sixteenth-Century Jewish Physician

Kabbalah, Magic and Science The Cultural Universe of a Sixteenth-Century Jewish Physician

Author: David B. Ruderman Format: Hardback Release Date: 01/07/1988

In describing the career of Abraham Yagel, a Jewish physician, kabbalist, and naturalist who lived in northern Italy from 1553 to about 1623, David Ruderman observes the remarkable interplay between early modern scientific thought and religious and occult traditions from a wholly new perspective: that of Jewish intellectual life. Whether he was writing about astronomical discoveries, demons, marvelous creatures and prodigies of nature, the uses of magic, or reincarnation, Yagel made a consistent effort to integrate empirical study of nature with kabbalistic and rabbinic learning. Yagel's several interests were united in his belief in the interconnectedness of all thing-a belief, shared by many Renaissance thinkers, that turns natural phenomena into signatures of the divine unity of all things. Ruderman argues that Yagel and his coreligionists were predisposed to this prevalent view because of occult strains in traditional Jewish thought He also suggests that underlying Yagel's passion for integrating and correlating all knowledge was a powerful psychological need to gain cultural respect and acceptance for himself and for his entire community, especially in a period of increased anti-Semitic agitation in Italy. Yagel proposed a bold new agenda for Jewish culture that underscored the religious value of the study of nature, reformulated kabbalist traditions in the language of scientific discourse so as to promote them as the highest form of human knowledge, and advocated the legitimate role of the magical arts as the ultimate expression of human creativity in Judaism. This portrait of Yagel and his intellectual world will well serve all students of late Renaissance and early modern Europe.