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Jewish Contribution to Civilization$
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Jeremy Cohen and Richard I. Cohen

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9781904113522

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: February 2021

DOI: 10.3828/liverpool/9781904113522.001.0001

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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: 25 September 2021

From Sephardi to Oriental: The ‘Decline’ Theory of Jewish Civilization in the Middle East and North Africa

From Sephardi to Oriental: The ‘Decline’ Theory of Jewish Civilization in the Middle East and North Africa

Chapter:
(p.125) Seven From Sephardi to Oriental: The ‘Decline’ Theory of Jewish Civilization in the Middle East and North Africa
Source:
Jewish Contribution to Civilization
Author(s):

Daniel Schroeter

Publisher:
Liverpool University Press
DOI:10.3828/liverpool/9781904113522.003.0008

This chapter reveals that the 'orientalism' of European Jewish scholars was more than one dimensional. It discusses Western Jewish historians from Heinrich Graetz to Shlomo Dov Goitein who typically cast Islam as more tolerant and more enlightened than Christianity, facilitating the unique Judaeo-Arabic cultural symbiosis that nourished the 'golden age' of Spanish Jewry. It also recounts the wake of the Spanish Jewish expulsion in 1492, when oriental Jewry embarked upon a cultural decline. The chapter investigates this 'rise and decline' model of Sephardi and Middle Eastern Jewry while revealing questions about the Eurocentric character of the 'contribution discourse'. It reviews the biological argument on the ideal Sephardi type that was adopted to counter antisemitic charges of Jewish degeneracy.

Keywords:   orientalism, European Jewish scholars, Spanish Jewry, Judaeo-Arabic culture, Sephardi, Middle Eastern Jewry, oriental Jewry

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