The motif of "Moses as legislator", known since antiquity, was held in special esteem by Jews in Quattrocento Italy, though Christian authors also knew of it. This designation for Moses should be understood against the background of the revival of Platonic thought in the West, which led Jewish scholars, especially in Italy, to emphasize Platonic trends that had long characterized Jewish medieval thought. But Jewish authors of the period were also involved in debates with non-Jews, causing them to draw on classical and scholastic sources better known to Christians. Adapting Arabic-Jewish Platonic texts to Aristotelian humanistic thought eventually gave rise to a new understanding of politics – both practical and theoretical. At the end of the fifteenth century, this new mix of perspectives allowed Jewish and Christian scholars in Italy to interpret Mosaic legislation not only as a divinely revealed collection of moral and religious precepts but also as a model legal system for the modern age – a code that could give various forms of government in early modern Europe a basis in the political exegesis of biblical institutions.

Moses as Legislator in fifteenth-century Italian Jewish and Christian Authors

Fabrizio Lelli
2019

Abstract

The motif of "Moses as legislator", known since antiquity, was held in special esteem by Jews in Quattrocento Italy, though Christian authors also knew of it. This designation for Moses should be understood against the background of the revival of Platonic thought in the West, which led Jewish scholars, especially in Italy, to emphasize Platonic trends that had long characterized Jewish medieval thought. But Jewish authors of the period were also involved in debates with non-Jews, causing them to draw on classical and scholastic sources better known to Christians. Adapting Arabic-Jewish Platonic texts to Aristotelian humanistic thought eventually gave rise to a new understanding of politics – both practical and theoretical. At the end of the fifteenth century, this new mix of perspectives allowed Jewish and Christian scholars in Italy to interpret Mosaic legislation not only as a divinely revealed collection of moral and religious precepts but also as a model legal system for the modern age – a code that could give various forms of government in early modern Europe a basis in the political exegesis of biblical institutions.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11587/430281
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