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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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The High Point (IV): Spiritual Crisis (1650–1713)

The High Point (IV): Spiritual Crisis (1650–1713)

(p.170) IX The High Point (IV): Spiritual Crisis (1650–1713)
European Jewry in the Age of Mercantilism, 1550-1750

Jonathan Israel

Liverpool University Press

This chapter explores how, during the latter half of the seventeenth century, the Jewish world was shaken spiritually more profoundly than at any time since the expulsions of the late fifteenth century. A mounting turmoil of inner pressures erupted in the 1650s and 1660s in a drama which was to convulse world Jewry for decades. Moreover, although this Jewish upheaval had some separate and independent roots, unconnected with the current intellectual preoccupations of Christian Europe, it took place during, and shared some causes with, the deepening crisis besetting seventeenth-century European culture as a whole. Inevitably, the ferment within the Synagogue interacted on the wider upheaval within European devotion and thought, the one chain of encounters pervading the other in a remarkable process of cultural transformation. Ultimately, the upheaval is perhaps best understood as a cultural reaction to the immense disruptions and migrations of the previous two centuries and the many unresolved contradictions the vast treks, first to the East and then to the West, had given rise to. It may be true that the reintegration of Jews was more economic than cultural, yet the rifts and disintegrative tendencies within western Christendom had placed the age-old confrontation of Christianity and Judaism on a totally new basis. The chapter then looks at the Shabbatean movement, Spinozism, philosemitism, and anti-Semitism.

Keywords:   European Jewry, Jewish upheaval, European culture, Synagogue, Christianity, Judaism, Shabbatean movement, Spinozism, philosemitism, anti-Semitism

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