In August, Brandeis University Press will release “Sites of European Antisemitism in the Age of Mass Politics, 1880–1918″, edited by Robert Nemes (Colgate University) and Daniel Unowsky (University of Memphis). The publisher’s description follows:
This innovative collection of essays on the upsurge of antisemitism across Europe in the decades around 1900 shifts the focus away from intellectuals and well-known incidents to less-familiar events, actors, and locations, including smaller towns and villages. This “from below” perspective offers a new look at a much-studied phenomenon: essays link provincial violence and antisemitic politics with regional, state, and even transnational trends. Featuring a diverse array of geographies that include Great Britain, France, Austria-Hungary, Romania, Italy, Greece, and the Russian Empire, the book demonstrates the complex interplay of many factors—economic, religious, political, and personal—that led people to attack their Jewish neighbors.
In September, Cambridge University Press will release Organ Donation and the Divine Lien in Talmudic Law by Madeline Kochen (University of Michigan Law School). The publisher’s description follows:
This book offers a new theory of property and distributive justice derived from Talmudic law, illustrated by a case study involving the sale of organs for transplant. Although organ donation did not exist in late antiquity, this book posits a new way, drawn from the Talmud, to conceive of this modern means of giving to others. Our common understanding of organ transfers as either a gift or sale is trapped in a dichotomy that is conceptually and philosophically limiting. Drawing on Maussian gift theory, this book suggests a different legal and cultural meaning for this property transfer. It introduces the concept of the “divine lien,” an obligation to others in need built into the definition of all property ownership. Rather than a gift or sale, organ transfer is shown to exemplify an owner’s voluntary recognition and fulfillment of this latent property obligation.
In August, Brandeis University Press will release “Jewish Philosophical Politics in Germany, 1789-1848″ by Sven-Erik Rose (University of California, Davis). The Publisher’s description follows:
A provocative look at how Jewish intellectuals thought about Jewish religion and existence within a German philosophical tradition
In this book Rose illuminates the extraordinary creativity of Jewish intellectuals as they reevaluated Judaism with the tools of a German philosophical tradition fast emerging as central to modern intellectual life. While previous work emphasizes the “subversive” dimensions of German-Jewish thought or the “inner antisemitism” of the German philosophical tradition, Rose shows convincingly the tremendous resources German philosophy offered contemporary Jews for thinking about the place of Jews in the wider polity. Offering a fundamental reevaluation of seminal figures and key texts, Rose emphasizes the productive encounter between Jewish intellectuals and German philosophy. He brings to light both the complexity and the ambivalence of reflecting on Jewish identity and politics from within a German tradition that invested tremendous faith in the political efficacy of philosophical thought itself.
This May, Yale University Press published Jabotinsky: A Life by Hillel Halkin. The publisher’s description follows.
Vladimir Jabotinsky (1880–1940) was a man of huge paradoxes and contradictions and has been the most misunderstood of all Zionist politicians–a first-rate novelist, a celebrated Russian journalist, and the founder of the branch of Zionism now headed by Benjamin Netanyahu. This biography, the first in English in nearly two decades, undertakes to answer central questions about Jabotinsky as a writer, a political thinker, and a leader. Hillel Halkin sets aside the stereotypes to which Jabotinsky has been reduced by his would-be followers and detractors alike.
Halkin explains the importance of Odessa, Jabotinsky’s native city, in molding his character and outlook; discusses his novels and short stories, showing the sometimes hidden connections between them and Jabotinsky’s political thought, and studies a political career that ended in tragic failure. Halkin also addresses Jabotinsky’s position, unique among the great figures of Zionist history, as both a territorial maximalist and a principled believer in democracy. The author inquires why Jabotinsky was often accused of fascist tendencies though he abhorred authoritarian and totalitarian politics, and investigates the many opposed aspects of his personality and conduct while asking whether or not they had an ultimate coherence. Few figures in twentieth-century Jewish life were quite so admired and loathed, and Halkin’s splendid, subtle book explores him with empathy and lucidity.
This June, Stanford University Press will publish Jewish Spain, A Mediterranean Memory by Tabea Alexa Linhard (Washington University- St. Louis). The publisher’s description follows.
What is meant by “Jewish Spain”? The term itself encompasses a series of historical contradictions. No single part of Spain has ever been entirely Jewish. Yet discourses about Jews informed debates on Spanish identity formation long after their 1492 expulsion. The Mediterranean world witnessed a renewed interest in Spanish-speaking Jews in the twentieth century, and it has grappled with shifting attitudes on what it meant to be Jewish and Spanish throughout the century.
At the heart of this book are explorations of the contradictions that appear in different forms of cultural memory: literary texts, memoirs, oral histories, biographies, films, and heritage tourism packages. Tabea Alexa Linhard identifies depictions of the difficulties Jews faced in Spain and Northern Morocco in years past as integral to the survival strategies of Spanish Jews, who used them to make sense of the confusing and harrowing circumstances of the Spanish Civil War, the Francoist repression, and World War Two.
Jewish Spain takes its place among other works on Muslims, Christians, and Jews by providing a comprehensive analysis of Jewish culture and presence in twentieth-century Spain, reminding us that it is impossible to understand and articulate what Spain was, is, and will be without taking into account both “Muslim Spain” and “Jewish Spain.”
In July, Cambridge University Press will release Maimonides and the Shaping of the Jewish Canon, by James A. Daimond (University of Waterloo, Ontario). The publisher’s description follows:
Jewish thought since the Middle Ages can be regarded as a sustained dialogue with Moses Maimonides, regardless of the different social, cultural, and intellectual environments in which it was conducted. Much of Jewish intellectual history can be viewed as a series of engagements with him, fueled by the kind of “Jewish” rabbinic and esoteric writing Maimonides practiced. This book examines a wide range of theologians, philosophers, and exegetes who share a passionate engagement with Maimonides, assaulting, adopting, subverting, or adapting his philosophical and jurisprudential thought. This ongoing enterprise is critical to any appreciation of the broader scope of Jewish law, philosophy, biblical interpretation, and Kabbalah. Maimonides’s legal, philosophical, and exegetical corpus became canonical in the sense that many subsequent Jewish thinkers were compelled to struggle with it in order to advance their own thought. As such, Maimonides joins fundamental Jewish canon alongside the Bible, the Talmud, and the Zohar.
This May, Oxford University Press will publish Natural Law: A Jewish, Christian, and Islamic Trialogue by Anver M. Emon (University of Toronto), Matthew Levering (Mundelein Seminary), and David Novak (University of Toronto). The publisher’s description follows.
This book is an examination of natural law doctrine, rooted in the classical writings of our respective three traditions: Jewish, Christian, and Islamic. Each of the authors provides an extensive essay reflecting on natural law doctrine in his tradition. Each of the authors also provides a thoughtful response to the essays of the other two authors. Readers will gain a sense for how natural law (or cognate terms) resonated with classical thinkers such as Maimonides, Origen, Augustine, al-Ghazali and numerous others. Readers will also be instructed in how the authors think that these sources can be mined for constructive reflection on natural law today. A key theme in each essay is how the particularity of the respective religious tradition is squared with the evident universality of natural law claims. The authors also explore how natural law doctrine functions in particular traditions for reflection upon the religious other.
On June 2, Oxford University Press will publish Scriptural Polemics: The Qur’an and Other Religions by Mun’im Sirry (University of Notre Dame). The publisher’s description follows.
A number of passages in the Qur’an criticize Jews and Christians, from claims of exclusive salvation and charges of Jewish and Christian falsification of revelation to cautions against the taking of Jews and Christians as patrons, allies, or intimates. Mun’im Sirry offers a novel exploration of these polemical passages, which have long been regarded as obstacles to peaceable interreligious relations, through the lens of twentieth-centurytafsir (exegesis). He considers such essential questions as: How have modern contexts shaped Muslim reformers’ understanding of the Qur’an, and how have the reformers’ interpretations recontextualized these passages? Can the Qur’an’s polemical texts be interpreted fruitfully for interactions among religious communities in the modern world?
Sirry also reflects on the various definitions of apologetic or polemic as relevant sacred texts and analyzes reformist tafsirs with careful attention to argument, literary context, and rhetoric in order to illuminate the methods, positions, and horizons of the exegeses.Scriptural Polemics provides both a critical engagement with the tafsirs and a lucid and original examination of Qur’anic language, logic, and dilemmas, showing how the dynamic and varied reformist interpretations of these passages open the way for a less polemical approach to other religions.
Next month, Oxford will publish Deborah’s Daughters: Gender Politics and Biblical Interpretation, by Joy A. Schroeder (Capital University and Trinity Lutheran Seminary). The publisher’s description follows.
Joy A. Schroeder offers the first in-depth exploration of the biblical story of Deborah, an authoritative judge, prophet, and war leader. For centuries, Deborah’s story has challenged readers’ traditional assumptions about the place of women in society.
Schroeder shows how Deborah’s story has fueled gender debates throughout history. An examination of the prophetess’s journey through nearly two thousand years of Jewish and Christian interpretation shows how the biblical account of Deborah was deployed against women, for women, and by women who aspired to leadership roles in church and society. Numerous women—and men who supported women’s aspirations to leadership—used Deborah’s narrative to justify female claims to political and religious authority. Opponents to women’s public leadership endeavored to define Deborah’s role as ”private” or argued that she was a divinely authorized exception, not to be emulated by future generations of women.
Deborah’s Daughters provides crucial new insight into the the history of women in Judaism and Christianity, and into women’s past and present roles in the church, synagogue, and society.
Last month, CLR Student Fellow Jessica Wright ’14 traveled to Israel, where she considered the religious, legal, and political issues that continue to divide the country and region. The following is her photo essay from Jerusalem. To see the slide show, please click on the first image.
Each day in Jerusalem began with a walk to the Jaffa Gate, one of the seven entrances to the Old City. Divided into four uneven quarters (Jewish, Christian, Muslim, Armenian) and surrounded by the walls built by Suleiman in the early 16th century, the Old City is sacred to the three great monotheistic religions – Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.
For Christians, Jerusalem is the place where Jesus preached and healed, was crucified, buried, and rose from the dead. Pilgrims walk the Via Dolorosa or “Way of the Cross” to Golgatha, which is now located within the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in the Christian Quarter.
As noted historian Raymond Cohen observes, the Holy Sepulcher is the only church in the world where “first-century Herodian, second-century Hadrianic, fourth-century Constantinian, eleventh-century Byzantine, twelfth-century crusader, nineteenth-century neo-Byzantine, and twentieth-century modern masonry are visible in one place. The church is not only a monument to the culminating events of the Gospels but also a record in stone of the Christian saga.”
The Holy Sepulcher is also one of the only churches where six ancient Christian communions worship together. The Greek Orthodox, Roman Catholic, and Armenian Orthodox churches are considered the major communities in the church; the Coptic, Ethiopian, and Syriac Orthodox churches are minor communities with rights of usage but not possession.
The Chapel of St. Helena, also known as the Chapel of St. Gregory, is a 12th century Armenian church located at the lower level of the Holy Sepulcher. According to tradition, this is the place where the Emperor Constantine’s mother, St. Helena, found relics of the True Cross.
The Holy Sepulcher itself is located in the Aedicule, a 19th Century structure, and contains the tomb of Christ and the Angel’s Stone (a fragment of the large stone that sealed the tomb).
Domes of the Holy Sepulcher
For Jews, Jerusalem is the site of the Temple, now in ruins except for the Western Wall. The Wall is considered the holiest site in Judaism outside of the Temple Mount.
Men praying at the Wall
Prayers at the Wall
Celebrating at the Wall
View of the Western Wall and Temple Mount
The Dome of the Rock and the Al-Aqsa Mosque are two of the most important Muslim holy sites. Muslim tradition says Muhammad ascended to Heaven from the Mount in 621.
Har haBáyit or Haram al-Sharif
Haram al-Sharif before afternoon prayer
Lounging and Learning, Haram al-Sharif
Jerusalem has long been an object of desire, both spiritually and temporally, and it continues to be a city possessed by a diversity of communities.
Sending texts from the Wall
Bread for sale outside Haram al-Sharif, Har haBáyit
If you want to leave the Old City, walk up.
Afternoon in Jerusalem, New City
Jaffa Road at night
Looking out over the Old City from the Mount of Olives, one can understand why the Talmud teaches that “Ten measures of beauty descended on the world – nine were taken by Jerusalem, one by the rest of the world.”
All photos by Jessica Wright, Canon EOS 700D and Leica M3 (please do not use photos without permission).