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Science, Philosophy, and Literature


  1. Overview
    1. Overview- Science, Philosophy, and Literature
  2. Secondary sources
    1. Beecher, Donald. “Leone De’ Sommi and Jewish Theatre in Renaissance Mantua.” Renaissance and Reformation 17, no. 2 (1993)- 5-19.
    2. Ruderman, David B. “Contemporary Science and Jewish Law in the Eyes of Isaac Lampronti of Ferrara and Some of His Contemporaries.” In The Frank Talmage Memorial Volume, edited by Barry Walfish, 211-224. Haifa- Haifa University Press, 1992.
    3. Davis, Joseph. “Ashkenazic Rationalism and Midrashic Natural History- Responses to the New Science in the Works of Rabbi Yom Tov Lipmann Heller (1578-1654).” Science in Context 10, no. 4 (1997)- 605-626- Abstract- Between 1550 and 1650, the intellectual elite of Ashkenazic Jews, including Yom Tov Lipmann Heller (1578-1654) of Bohemia and Poland, showed an interest both in astronomy and in the natural sciences. Heller’s writings show his familiarity with medieval and early modern Hebrew astronomical texts and his belief that astronomy should be studied by all Jewish schoolboys. Heller’s astronomical views were then influenced by the discoveries and debates of his period. Between 1614 and the 1630’s, Heller moved from an Aristotelian to a Tychonic view of the nature of the celestial bodies. Inspired, furthermore, by the notion of a natural order subject to change, and basing himself on the exegesis of ancient rabbinic texts, Heller offered midrashic natural histories, namely, a hypothesis concerning the development of a certain type of animal, and another concerning the dimming of the moon and its movement into a lower orbit.
    4. Efron, Noah J. “Irenism and Natural Philosophy in Rudolfine Prague- The Case of David Gans.” Science in Context 10, no. 4 (1997)- 627-649. Abstract- David Gans (1541-1613), a German Jew who was educated in Poland and spent his adulthood in Prague, produced over his lifetime a large and unprecedented corpus of Hebrew introductions to various liberal disciplines, chiefly astronomy. Gans believed that the disciplines he described might help to mediate between Christians and Jews by serving as a shared subject of study. He considered these subjects to be uniquely apt for shared study because he took them to be theologically neutral. Gans’s hopes went unfulfilled, and most of his books remained unpublished and ignored. Still, his own firm belief in the plausibility of his project implies that it was not a foregone conclusion near the start of the 17th century that astronomy and other liberal disciplines would find no purchase among Central European Jews. It also suggests that the mutual alienation between intellectuals of different confessions that has been emphasized by some historians might have been less pronounced than is often imagined. Further, Gans’s belief that these disciplines could encourage interdenominational discourse and respect, and his intimation that such beliefs were shared by Johann Kepler and Tycho Brahe, suggest the intriguing possibility that natural philosophy was valued by at least some of its early modern practitioners as an irenic undertaking.
    5. Fishman, David E. “Rabbi Moshe Isserles and the Study of Science among Polish Rabbis.” Science in Context 10, no. 4 (1997)- 571-588- Abstract- Discusses differences in the openness to non-Jewish learning among the Ashkenazic and Sephardic rabbinic cultures. The conventional view has been that Sephardic rabbis such as Maimonides were part of a tradition of learning that included philosophy, medicine, and science, whereas Ashkenazic rabbis tended to restrict themselves to Talmudic literature with rare forays into the Bible or Kabbalah. This view has been changed by Ephraim Kupfer, who demonstrated that 15th and 16t- century rabbis in eastern Europe studied rationalist religious philosophy. The article discusses Rabbi Moshe Isserles (1530-72) and his work in astronomy. As a Talmudist and a halakhist, he believed that the study of physics was a prelude to the study of metaphysics. He further argued that knowledge of God’s universe leads to love and reverence for the creator.
    6. Ruderman, David B. “Philosophy, Kabbalah, and Science in the Culture of the Italian Ghetto- On the Debate between Samson Morpurgo and Aviad Sar Shalom Basilae.” Jerusalem Studies in Jewish Thought 11 (1993)- vii-xxiv.
    7. Tirosh-Rothschild, Hava. “In Defense of Jewish Humanism.” Jewish History 3, no. 2 (1988)- 31-57.
    8. Tirosh-Samuelson, Hava. “Theology of Nature in Sixteenth-Century Italian Jewish Philosophy.” Science in Context 10, no. 4 (1997)- 529-570.
    9. Veltri, Giuseppe. “Science and Religious Hermeneutics- The ‘Philosophy’ of Rabbi Loew of Prague.” In Religious Confessions and the Sciences in the Sixteenth Century, edited by Jurgen Helm and Annette Winkelmann, 119-135. Leiden- Brill, 2001. Research Notes- Page 121- Text of the epitaph of Rabbi Judah Liva’i’s tombstone in Prague. Pages 122-123- Long excerpt from Meir Perles’ Sefer Megilat Yuhasin Meharal Mi-Prag, a biography of Rabbi Loew, in which Perles talks about Loew’s marriage “to Mrs. Rabbi Loew, since criminal courts had left her rich father with ‘nothing but his bare life’, and only through a miracle did she manage to obtain a dowry and thus marry the respected rabbi” (Published in 1718). Page 130- Excerpt from the sixth chapter of Rabbi Loew’s Be’er Ha-Golah in which he speaks of his excitement upon having received a book written by Azariah de’Rossi, later cursing the day it was published for its supposed opposition to Jewish tradition (Published in 1600). Pages 130-131- Excerpt from the writing of Rabbi Loew in which he defends “himself against a comparison of the rabbinic authorities with the new scholarly disciplines” (No information as to origin or date of publication given).
  3. Images
    1. Almanac Perpetuum, Abraham Zacuto, (Leiria-) Samuel Dortas, 1496, Z-14, Fols. 67v-68r.

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