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Pioneering biblical critic, theorist of democracy, and legendary conflater of God and nature, Jewish philosopher Baruch Spinoza (1632-1677) was excommunicated by the Sephardic Jews of Amsterdam in 1656 for his "horrible heresies" and "monstrous deeds." Yet, over the past three centuries, Spinoza's rupture with traditional Jewish beliefs and practices has elevated him to a prominent place in genealogies of Jewish modernity. The First Modern Jew provides a riveting look at how Spinoza went from being one of Judaism's most notorious outcasts to one of its most celebrated, if still highly controversial, cultural icons, and a powerful and protean symbol of the first modern secular Jew.
Ranging from Amsterdam to Palestine and back again to Europe, the book chronicles Spinoza's posthumous odyssey from marginalized heretic to hero, the exemplar of a whole host of Jewish identities, including cosmopolitan, nationalist, reformist, and rejectionist. Daniel Schwartz shows that in fashioning Spinoza into "the first modern Jew," generations of Jewish intellectualsGerman liberals, East European maskilim, secular Zionists, and Yiddishistshave projected their own dilemmas of identity onto him, reshaping the Amsterdam thinker in their own image. The many afterlives of Spinoza are a kind of looking glass into the struggles of Jewish writers over where to draw the boundaries of Jewishness and whether a secular Jewish identity is indeed possible. Cumulatively, these afterlives offer a kaleidoscopic view of modern Jewish cultureand a vivid history of an obsession with Spinoza that continues to this day.
|Publisher:||Princeton University Press|
|Product dimensions:||6.10(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.00(d)|
About the Author
Daniel B. Schwartz is assistant professor of history at George Washington University.
Table of Contents
List of Illustrations ix
Preface and Acknowledgments xi
Note on Translations and Romanization xvii
Spinoza's Jewish Modernities
Chapter 1: Ex-Jew, Eternal Jew: 15
Early Representations of the Jewish Spinoza
Chapter 2: Refining Spinoza: 35
Moses Mendelssohn's Response to the Amsterdam Heretic
Chapter 3: The First Modern Jew: 55
Berthold Auerbach's Spinoza and the Beginnings of an Image
Chapter 4: A Rebel against the Past, A Revealer of Secrets: 81
Salomon Rubin and the East European Maskilic Spinoza
Chapter 5: From the Heights of Mount Scopus: 113
Yosef Klausner and the Zionist Rehabilitation of Spinoza
Chapter 6: Farewell, Spinoza: 155
I. B. Singer and the Tragicomedy of the Jewish Spinozist
Spinoza Redivivus in the Twenty-First Century