The Light of the Eyes


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Azariah de´ Rossi; Translated from the Hebrew, with an introduction by Joanna Weinberg

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This book is an annotated translation of the pioneering Hebrew work of Azariah de’ Rossi, an outstanding figure in the history of Jewish scholarship. First printed in Mantua in 1573, the book established the foundations of critical Jewish historiography.

The book contains innovative studies on a wide range of subjects, including chronology, the origins of the Septuagint, the antiquity of the Hebrew language, and the nature of biblical poetry. De’ Rossi lends unprecedented attention to the evidence of Josephus while his critique of Philo of Alexandria was the first attempt to assess the Jewish status of this Hellenistic philosopher. The hallmark of his work is the presentation of arguments drawn from an impressive array of diverse sources ranging from the texts of rabbinic tradition to Augustine and to Pico della Mirandola. His critical approach to rabbinic texts and his demonstration that the Jewish creation-era calendar was a late, post-Talmudic invention generated controversy that at one time led to a ban on the book. Familiar with the works of contemporary Catholics and Protestants, de’ Rossi was also a mediator between Jewish and Christian scholarship, clarifying problems posed by Jewish tradition in relation to non-Jewish evidence, while signaling the importance of Jewish sources for the topics discussed by his non-Jewish neighbors.

Joanna Weinberg is senior lecturer in rabbinics, Leo Baeck College, London.

“This translation is one of the most important contributions of the past generation, both to the study of Jewish thought in the sixteenth century and to that of the history of historical scholarship.”—Anthony Grafton, Princeton University

“With the publication of Joanna Weinberg’s annotated translation, de’ Rossi’s masterpiece of 16th-century learning is finally accessible to a wider readership. Ms. Weinberg . . . has produced a readable de’Rossi that also situates him in his context. The extent to which de’ Rossi’s questions remain today’s questions, and his answers the stuff of today’s controversies, is striking—and maybe a little depressing, too.”—Peter N. Miller, Forward

Weinberg . . . has produced a readable de'Rossi that also situates him in his context.

“de’ Rossi’s . . . approach paved the way for modern Jewish studies by the historical critical methodology, of which Dr. Weinberg’s massive work is an outstanding example, richly deserving of study by everyone interested in the demonstration that objective scholarship should not be seen as detrimental to religious faith.”—Rabbi Dr. Louis Jacobs, Jewish Chronicle

“This admirable translation, coupled with a highly informative and learned introduction, is a superb contribution not only to Jewish thought in particular, but is an invaluable addition to historical scholarship and humanistic studies in general. It richly deserves a prominent place in any serious library.”—Religious Studies Review

"This translation manifests the far-ranging scholarship that produced the book in the sixteenth century and the answering labor that has now brought it into English."—Arthur M. Lesley, Renaissance Quarterly

“Weinberg’s translation recovers a central source of early modern Jewish scholarship, which until now was only accessible to a small circle of scholars, and opens it up to a broader community of researchers in 16th-century Judaism and the Humanist Renaissance. Thanks to Weinberg’s efforts, de’Rossi again can serve as a mediator between Jewish and Christian scholarship.”—Martin Jacobs, The Jewish Quarterly Review

. . . [A] marvel of learning ecoomically presented. . . amazingly clear and accessible. . . a moral accomplishment as well as an intellectual one.
ISBN: 9780300079067
Publication Date: May 11, 2001
864 pages, 7 x 10
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