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Faithful NarrativesHistorians, Religion, and the Challenge of Objectivity$
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Andrea Sterk and Nina Caputo

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780801451829

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: August 2016

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9780801451829.001.0001

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Constructions of Jewish Identity through Reflections on Islam

Constructions of Jewish Identity through Reflections on Islam

(p.169) Chapter 10 Constructions of Jewish Identity through Reflections on Islam
Faithful Narratives

Susannah Heschel

Cornell University Press

This chapter shows that Jewish scholars tested the boundaries between religious, political, and cultural modes of public expression by immersing themselves in the study of Islam—some to the point of conversion. This engagement with Muslim literature and culture, which persisted until the Second World War, enabled some Jewish scholars to cast themselves as intermediaries between Eastern and Western aesthetics and theology. By forging a middle ground, they helped to relieve the social and political pressures Jews experienced in late-nineteenth-and early-twentieth-century Europe. The positive view of Islam that prevailed among Jewish theologians allowed it to function as a template for presenting central Jewish ideas, such as monotheism, rejection of anthropomorphism, and religious law as divine revelation.

Keywords:   Jewish scholars, Islamic study, Muslim literature, aesthetics, theology, monotheism, anthropomorphism, religious law

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