Center on Religion, Culture & Conflict

 Intrigued with Islam:
Jewish Scholars, Travelers and Converts in Nineteenth Century Europe

A Public Lecture by Susannah Heschel

When: November 4, 2009 at 8 p.m.
Where: Learning center, room 28 (lower level of Library)

The rise of Islamic Studies in Europe during the long nineteenth century was profoundly shaped by Jewish scholars. Professor Heschel’s lecture, and the book she is currently writing on this topic, will examine the use of Islam as a template through which aspects of modern Judaism came to be defined for a Christian readership. Studies of the rationality and ethical nature of Islam’s legal traditions, its monotheism, and its rejection of anthropomorphism, became surrogates for a defense of Judaism’s legal and theological traditions. Jewish scholarship on Islamic origins, and the widely-read narratives of Jewish travelers to Islamic countries, shaped European images of Muslims as well as of Jews. The Jewish admiration for Islam ultimately led some Jews to convert to Islam, some of whom became significant religious leaders, while others became political representatives who negotiated with European leaders.
Susannah Heschel
Susannah Heschel holds the Eli Black Professorship in Jewish Studies at Dartmouth College. Her scholarship focuses on Jewish-Christian relations in Germany during the 19th and 20th centuries, the history of biblical scholarship, and the history of antisemitism. Her numerous publications include Abraham Geiger and the Jewish Jesus, which won the National Jewish Book Award, and The Aryan Jesus: Christian Theologians and the Bible in Nazi Germany. She is the author of over seventy articles and has edited and co-edited several books. Professor Heschel was recently awarded a prestigious two-year grant from the Carnegie Foundation
to allow her to complete the research and writing of her book on Jewish scholars.

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