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European Jewry in the Age of Mercantilism, 1550-1750$
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Jonathan I. Israel

Print publication date: 1997

Print ISBN-13: 9781874774426

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: February 2021

DOI: 10.3828/liverpool/9781874774426.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM LIVERPOOL SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.liverpool.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Liverpool University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in LSO for personal use.date: 17 September 2021

Jewish Culture (1550–1650)

Jewish Culture (1550–1650)

Chapter:
(p.58) IV Jewish Culture (1550–1650)
Source:
European Jewry in the Age of Mercantilism, 1550-1750
Author(s):

Jonathan Israel

Publisher:
Liverpool University Press
DOI:10.3828/liverpool/9781874774426.003.0005

This chapter details the radical transformation of Jewish culture which occurred during the middle decades of the sixteenth century. Whereas medieval and Renaissance Italian Jewish intellectual life was essentially Talmudic, the changes of the mid-sixteenth century produced an altogether more rounded, complete, and coherent Jewish culture. Jewish society, indeed Jewish nationhood, as something distinct from Jewish religion, now emerged as much more definite realities than before. As late as the early sixteenth century, some Italian Jewish scholars had adhered to traditional Judaism rather than inhabited a specifically Jewish cultural world. Intellectually, they had immersed themselves in the learning of their non-Jewish contemporaries. From around 1550, by contrast, Jewish scholars lived and worked in a cultural atmosphere increasingly removed from that of their neighbours, even though in close touch and constantly interacting with it. Allegiance to traditional Judaism now fused with a whole package of new elements: a much intensified political and historical awareness; a new involvement in poetry, music, and drama; and an urgent quest to incorporate fragments of western philosophy and science into the emerging corpus of Jewish culture, all welded by a far more potent current of mysticism than had ever pervaded the Jewish world previously.

Keywords:   Jewish culture, Italian Jewish intellectual life, Jewish society, Jewish nationhood, Jewish religion, Jewish scholars, traditional Judaism, mysticism

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