Course

Changing Minds: Geographic Discoveries and New Worlds through the Eyes of a Renaissance Jewish Scholar


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This course will situate a manuscript in the context of the world from which it was produced so that we better understand both. The Italian Renaissance was a time of scientific discovery and artistic revolution, it was also a time of world exploration, religious ferment, and technological changes such as the broad dissemination of print. By understanding a single thinker, Jewish polymath Abraham ben Mordecai Farissol, and one of his most important manuscripts, Iggeret Orhot ‘Olam , in context, this course will offer a fresh

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This course will explore the world of the Jewish renaissance scholar Abraham ben Mordecai Fairissol and his manuscript A Letter on the Paths of the World ( Iggeret Orhot ‘Olam )— Farissol, a product of the northern Italian Renaissance, wrote this geographical treatise about a world seen anew through advances in science, exploration, and trade. The manuscript gives us insight into the place of Jews in the northern Italian Renaissance and demonstrates the ways they were at once deeply embedded in the changing intellectual landscape of the day, but also striving to assert distinctive Jewish belonging in this vibrant intellectual world. Among other things, this text is the first mention in Hebrew of the discovery of the Americas

What you’ll learn

  • You will learn about Abraham Farissol and his text A Letter on the Paths of the World ( Iggeret Orhot ‘Olam )
  • You will get a sense for the political, social, intellectual and urban environment of Ferrara during the Renaissance, and the place of Jews in that environment.
  • The impact of new science on traditional religious thought

1. Abraham Farissol and His Ferraran Environment

2. Illuminating Nature

3. Travel, Humanist Education, and the New Meaning of Geography

4. What are the Aims and Content of the Iggeret Orhot ‘Olam?

5. The Main Sources of Iggeret Orhot ‘Olam

6.How Was the Work Circulated? Who Was Interested? And Who Was the Copyist of the Schoenberg Manuscript? The Evidence from the Manuscript Itsel

Changing Minds: Geographic Discoveries and New Worlds through the Eyes of a Renaissance Jewish Scholar
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