The Many Faces of Hebraism in Early Modern Europe (seminar)

For more past programming from the Folger Institute, please see the article Folger Institute scholarly programs archive.

This was a fall 2018 weekend seminar led by Joanna Weinberg and Anthony Grafton

Does the term “Christian Hebraism”—conventionally used in modern scholarship—actually suit the panoply of Christian approaches and methods to Jewish literature and culture in the fifteenth through seventeenth centuries? This seminar will welcome up to sixteen faculty and graduate student participants to discuss the varied approaches taken by Christians to understand the Hebrew Bible and Jewish exegesis; the history, rituals, and customs of the Jews; Kabbalah, mysticism, and magic; and the early history of Christianity. Relevant topics for discussion may include treatises and commentaries by early modern Christian scholars, debates about the biblical text and claims about Jewish doctrine and ritual, efforts to apply Jewish learning to such disciplines as philosophy and natural history, and portrayals of Jews in images and pamphlets. Participants will also examine relevant materials from the Folger Shakespeare Library collection during the course of the seminar and will present their discoveries.

Directors: Joanna Weinberg is Professor Emerita of early modern Jewish history and Rabbinics at the University of Oxford. She has translated and edited the works of the major Jewish Renaissance scholar Azariah de’ Rossi. Other recent publications include a volume co-edited with Scott Mandelbrote, Jewish Books and their Readers: Aspects of the Intellectual Life of Christians and Jews in Early Modern Europe (2016). Anthony Grafton teaches European history at Princeton University. His books include Joseph Scaliger (1983–93); The Footnote: A Curious History (1997); and, with Lisa Jardine, From Humanism to the Humanities (1986). Together Grafton and Weinberg have written “I have always loved the holy tongue”: Isaac Casaubon, the Jews, and a Forgotten Chapter in Renaissance Scholarship (2011).