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Galileo and the Church Political Inquisition or Critical Dialogue? by Rivka (Tel-Aviv University) Feldhay

Galileo and the Church Political Inquisition or Critical Dialogue?


Galileo and the Church Political Inquisition or Critical Dialogue? by Rivka (Tel-Aviv University) Feldhay

This book questions the traditional 'grand narratives' of science and religion in the seventeenth century. The binary oppositions underlying the story - between reason and faith, between knowledge and authority, between scripture and the light of nature - have moulded it into a formative myth: the banner of modern rationalism, liberalism and individualism. While deconstructing the oppositions behind the conflict, the book offers an analysis of the complex power/knowledge field in which the drama of Galileo and the Church unfolded. The act of silencing exemplified in the trials of Galileo is in no need of demonstration. It has been so imprinted in our consciousness that to reassert it is to state the obvious. The author's story is not about the repression of truth by religious authority. It is the story of an encounter between different types of power/knowledge structures within the framework of a dialogical model.


This book is noteworthy for its original approach to the interpretation of Galileo's trial and for its wealth of information about the ecclesiastical and theological history of the period.

Isis Feldhay's textual scholarship is careful, her distinctions are finely drawn, and her case is complex....the most original study of the 'Galileo affair
in recent decades

....Present-day Jesuits and Dominicans will find much to quibble about here, but they also can learn much from her researches.

Theology Studies Drawing on original documents and past interpretations, Feldhay looks at the trials of Galileo in a fresh light and comes away with some new of the more interesting and fresh looks at a fascinating political, philosophical and human drama.

Gordon Bond, The Practical Observer ...Feldhay is surely right in placing Galileo in the context of the Dominican-Jesuit struggle for intellectual supremacy in the church, and in suggesting that the Jesuits, who early on had a deep sympathy for Galilean science, were forced by ecclesio-political factors to back away....this book makes an important contribution.

Denis Janz, Religious Studies Review In this important new study, Rivka Feldhay challenges the predominant scholarly and popular view of the conflict between Galileo and the church....a convincing narrative....In support of the argument, Feldhay provides rich historically nuanced information that allows the reader to see the trajectory of conflicting elite cultures active during the early seventeenth century.

James B. South, Canadian Philosophical Review It is historically well informed and, in the main, interpretively sensitive in a context where such qualities have often in the past been in short supply.

American Historical Review

About the Author

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Book Info

Publication date

26th May 1995


Rivka (Tel-Aviv University) Feldhay

More books by Rivka (Tel-Aviv University) Feldhay
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Cambridge University Press


316 pages


History of science
Christian theology



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