"I Have Always Loved the Holy Tongue": Isaac Casaubon, the Jews, and a Forgotten Chapter in Renaissance Scholarship

Anthony Grafton and Joanna Weinberg, Harvard/Belknap, $35 (382p) ISBN 978-0-674-04840-9
Princeton professor Grafton and Oxford fellow Weinberg probe an aspect of Casaubon's scholarship—and life—that has heretofore received minimal attention: though chiefly known as a classical philologist, he was fervidly dedicated to the study of Hebrew texts. A devoted French Protestant, Casaubon's interest in arcane rabbinical treatises and other ancient Hebrew documents was inspired partly by his belief that early Christianity "could be understood only by scholars who took Jewish texts, histories, and customs into account" (a radical position to have in the late 16th century), and partly by a desire to "unlock Eastern mysteries." Grafton and Weinberg's thoroughly researched account of Casaubon—not only his study of Hebrew texts but also his complicated relationship with Jewish friends, suggesting that "his openness to Judaism as a larger world had certain limits"—succeeds through clear syntheses and thoughtful dissections of the many primary sources involved, rendering this academic text refreshingly accessible. Further compelling to students of Classical, Hebrew, and Renaissance scholarship will be the narrative of Casaubon's "scholarly skirmish" with Catholic Cardinal Cesare Baronio, in which he firmly asserted the relevance of Jewish texts in understanding the New Testament. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 11/22/2010
Release date: 01/01/2011
Genre: Nonfiction
Ebook - 393 pages - 978-0-674-05849-1
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