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Leadership and ConflictTensions in Medieval and Early Modern Jewish History and Culture$
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Marc Saperstein

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9781906764494

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: February 2021

DOI: 10.3828/liverpool/9781906764494.001.0001

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Philosophy and Jewish Society in the Late Middle Ages

Philosophy and Jewish Society in the Late Middle Ages

(p.59) Chapter Three Philosophy and Jewish Society in the Late Middle Ages
Leadership and Conflict

Marc Saperstein

Liverpool University Press

This chapter examines the influence of philosophy within Jewish society. It considers the dynamic changes which occurred when philosophical texts begin to penetrate a cultural environment where such texts had never before been studied or even accessible, and what happened when philosophical ideas started to appear in forms intended for the consumption of the ordinary educated Jew. The chapter goes on to seek out whoever paid for the scholars who translated Arabic (or Latin) philosophical texts into the Hebrew language or for the scribes who copied manuscripts of lengthy, specialized, technical works. From there, the chapter finds a setting for this study of philosophy in Jewish society, investigating whether or not philosophy was studied in formal Jewish academies or were merely private arrangements between teacher and student, or provider and consumer. The chapter then turns to a potential correlation between interest in philosophy and socioeconomic status. Finally, it considers whether or not philosophy undermined commitment to traditional beliefs and practices, or was used to rationalize a flagging allegiance to Jewish distinctiveness.

Keywords:   philosophy, philosophical texts, educated Jews, translators, Jewish academies, socioeconomic status, Jewish distinctiveness

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