“In No Man’s Land”

Diesen Titel gab der Renaissance-Kenner Anthony Grafton seinem Artikel über die Wechselwirkungen zwischen jüdischer und „traditioneller“ europäischer Geistesgeschichte in der The New York Review of Books 3/2004. Man dürfe diese intellektuelle Beziehung keinesfalls unterschätzen:

Still, the opening of the Jewish tradition caused an intellectual earthquake, and the seismic tremors it sent out shook everything from the structures of theological education to the practice of natural philosophy. Isaac Newton was only the most famous of the several influential thinkers who found inspiration in the Kabbalah for their most radical ideas about nature and society.

Wie immer in der NYRB sind der Anlass zu weitreichenderen Überlegungen zwei neue Bücher zum Thema. Adam Sutcliffs „Judaism and Enlightenment“ (Cambridge University Press) sowie Maurice Olenders „The Languages of Paradise. Aryans and Semites, am Match made in Heaven“ (Other Press).

The authors of these short, packed, and cogent books deserve praise and attention on many counts. They have illuminated lost worlds of passionate and engaged discussion, demonstrated the central part that Judaism played in Christians‘ efforts at self-definition, and teased out the ambiguities of Enlightenment and historicism. Not least of all, they have shown how much we still don’t know about the no man’s land in which learned Jewish and Christian armies struggled, over the centuries, by night.

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