Isaac Abarbanel's Stance Toward Tradition: Defense, Dissent, by Eric Lawee

By Eric Lawee

Explores the idea of Isaac Abarbanel, courtier-financier and significant Jewish philosopher on the flip of the 16th century, from the point of view of his negotiation with Jewish culture. Financier and courtier to the kings of Portugal, Spain, and Italy and Spanish Jewry's top-rated consultant at courtroom on the time of its 1492 expulsion, Isaac Abarbanel used to be additionally Judaism's prime pupil on the flip of the 16th century. His paintings has had a profound effect on either his contemporaries and later thinkers, Jewish and Christian. Isaac Abarbanel's Stance towards culture is the 1st full-length examine of Abarbanel in part a century. The booklet considers a variety of Abarbanel's writings, focusing for the 1st time at the dominant exegetical aspect of his highbrow achievements as mirrored in biblical commentaries and messianic writings. writer Eric Lawee techniques Abarbanel's paintings from the point of view of his negotiations with texts and teachings bequeathed to him from the Jewish previous. The paintings presents perception into the real non secular and highbrow advancements in past due medieval and early sleek Judaism whereas providing a portrait of a fancy pupil whose stance sooner than culture mixed conservatism with creativity and reverence with bold. "This enormously wealthy and well-written publication bargains scholars of Jewish highbrow historical past and historians of scriptural exegesis, for the 1st time, a research of Abarbanel as biblical commentator. Lawee argues convincingly for Abarbanel's benefit as a 'harvester' and a 'builder'--harvesting the culmination of his predecessors and development his personal edifice upon their efforts. This publication is sure to develop into the definitive research of medieval Jewry's final nice biblical parshan (commentator)." -- Charles H. Manekin, coeditor of The Jewish Philosophy Reader "Lawee's nuanced research ends up in a extra exact knowing of Abarbanel's legacy within the context of Renaissance humanism. Abarbanel emerges as a deeply discovered Jewish highbrow, who defended Judaism opposed to its detractors by way of coming into an inventive discussion with historical, medieval, and modern authors." -- Hava Tirosh-Samuelson, Arizona country college

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Extra resources for Isaac Abarbanel's Stance Toward Tradition: Defense, Dissent, and Dialogue

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62 Personal good fortune notwithstanding, Abarbanel must have recognized that some events swirling about him augured badly for Judaism’s future in the land of his ancestors. 63 At the same time, Spain saw a precipitous rise in the volume and intensity of anti-converso and anti-Jewish propaganda as the Inquisition implemented ever more brutal tactics culminating in the staged Santo Ni˜no de la Guardia trial of 1490–91. ”64 Yet if criticism of Abarbanel for failure to “grasp the developments of his time with a cold and piercing realistic view”65 is easily made in retrospect, it is readily countered if the perspective of hindsight is abandoned.

Beyond working to salvage some of his vast wealth, Abarbanel must have been concerned with the effects of a zealously mounted Christian missionizing effort,73 of which his family was made a special target. Judah Abarbanel, his eldest son, got wind of a planned kidnapping and forced baptism of his own firstborn (named Isaac, in accordance with family tradition, after Judah’s father). 75 Did the Abarbanels consider conversion? The curtain is drawn on their ruminations, but one may assume that Samuel Abarbanel’s example figured in any thoughts they had along these lines.

48 Despite such ups and downs, Abarbanel looked back upon his Portuguese years with favor throughout most of his life. And though he depicted them to Saul Hakohen as a long interval misspent in royal “courts and palaces,” these four and one-half decades conjured up much happier memories in their immediate aftermath and for decades to come. 50 Years later, as he wrote in Italy in the shadow of the calamity of the Spanish expulsion, auspicious images of Lisbon again filled Abarbanel’s head: wealth, honor, and Torah learning accrued; Passovers in the company of family, friends, and multitudinous guests; and, indeed, (divinely granted) elevated status in the “courts and palaces of kings and nobles”51 such as Abarbanel would rue in his letter to Saul Hakohen.

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