Description

This presentation explores the use by non-Jews in eighteenth-century France of controversialist works written primarily for manuscript circulation within the seventeenth-century Sephardic communities of the Netherlands. In response to sustained theological doubts regarding Judaism posed by Sephardim deeply conditioned by having lived as outward Catholics in the Iberian peninsula, several community leaders in seventeenth-century Amsterdam, such as the doctor and controversialist Isaac Orobio de Castro (c.1617-1687), authored trenchant attacks on Christian doctrine, in particular emphasizing the enduring validity of Jewish law and the superiority of Jewish biblical exegesis. French translations of some of these texts - which circulated in Paris and beyond in the early eighteenth century, and were first published in the 1770s – were read by non-Jewish philosophical radicals as novel and piquant critiques of Christian orthodoxy. However, it is misleadingly simple to regard these texts, as some historians have done, as ‘Jewish sources’ for the Enlightenment. Through a close examination of the inflections of translation, editing and presentation in one key text, I will seek to explore the complex transformations in the reading practices that were invited or made possible in these two very different cultural contexts.

This presentation is for the following text(s):

  • Prevenciones Divinas contra la Vana Idolotria de las Gentes (Divine Warnings against the Vain Idolatry of the Gentiles, 1669-1675)
  • Israel Vengé (Israel Avenged, 1770)

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Event Website

http://wesscholar.wesleyan.edu/emw/emw2009/

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Audio and video of the workshop are available with each presentation and on iTunesU

Start Date

25-8-2009 10:00 AM

Location

Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Studies, Harvard University

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Aug 25th, 10:00 AM

From Apologetics to Polemics: Isaac Orobio de Castro’s Defences of Judaism and their Use in the French Enlightenment

Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Studies, Harvard University

This presentation explores the use by non-Jews in eighteenth-century France of controversialist works written primarily for manuscript circulation within the seventeenth-century Sephardic communities of the Netherlands. In response to sustained theological doubts regarding Judaism posed by Sephardim deeply conditioned by having lived as outward Catholics in the Iberian peninsula, several community leaders in seventeenth-century Amsterdam, such as the doctor and controversialist Isaac Orobio de Castro (c.1617-1687), authored trenchant attacks on Christian doctrine, in particular emphasizing the enduring validity of Jewish law and the superiority of Jewish biblical exegesis. French translations of some of these texts - which circulated in Paris and beyond in the early eighteenth century, and were first published in the 1770s – were read by non-Jewish philosophical radicals as novel and piquant critiques of Christian orthodoxy. However, it is misleadingly simple to regard these texts, as some historians have done, as ‘Jewish sources’ for the Enlightenment. Through a close examination of the inflections of translation, editing and presentation in one key text, I will seek to explore the complex transformations in the reading practices that were invited or made possible in these two very different cultural contexts.

This presentation is for the following text(s):

  • Prevenciones Divinas contra la Vana Idolotria de las Gentes (Divine Warnings against the Vain Idolatry of the Gentiles, 1669-1675)
  • Israel Vengé (Israel Avenged, 1770)

http://fordham.bepress.com/emw/emw2009/emw2009/11