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Athens in JerusalemClassical Antiquity and Hellenism in the Making of the Modern Secular Jew$
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Yaacov Shavit

Print publication date: 1997

Print ISBN-13: 9781874774259

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: February 2021

DOI: 10.3828/liverpool/9781874774259.001.0001

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Japheth in the Tents of Shem: The Reception of the Classical Heritage in Modern Hebrew Culture

Japheth in the Tents of Shem: The Reception of the Classical Heritage in Modern Hebrew Culture

(p.119) 5 Japheth in the Tents of Shem: The Reception of the Classical Heritage in Modern Hebrew Culture
Athens in Jerusalem

Yaacov Shavit

, Chaya Naor, Niki Werner
Liverpool University Press

This chapter considers the Jewish discovery of classical antiquity. No matter what the Jewish response was to the driving forces behind the vital presence of the ‘ideal of Greece’, this ideal became a living historical entity; and hence the revival and presence of the classical past became a challenge and an inspiration, an example, and an incentive to the trend towards reviving the Jewish classical past. From the eighteenth century onwards, the Jewish intelligentsia, with many deep-seated reservations, began to acknowledge ‘the rediscovery of antiquity’. This was a slow and gradual process, beset by many impediments. Their discovery of Greece and their perceptions of it of course took different paths, had different motivations, and produced different results. It compelled them to relate themselves not only to the ideal Greece and to its function in European culture, not only to the Greece of Jewish historical memory (and not only to Greek philosophy), but also to both the ‘real’ Greece and the imaginary Greece that was resurrected in literature, polemics, and historical scholarship, as well as to Greece as the ‘other’, that Greece which was contraposed to Judaism and represented as its complete opposite.

Keywords:   classical antiquity, ideal Greece, real Greece, imaginary Greece, classical past, Jewish classical past, antiquity, European culture, Jewish historical memory

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