“The Immortal Traveler”: How Historiography Changed Judaism

and Cristiana Facchini

Abstract:

The historiography of Judaism as a scholarly enterprise primarily developed during the nineteenth century as the byproduct of a number of historical conditions that influenced Western culture at large. First and foremost, European society at the time was shaped by the dynamism and social change brought on by industrialization. Moreover, the nineteenth century’s culture held on to a romantic image of the past in its multifarious guises – the ancient or the medieval, and in some cases the age of the Renaissance – to which various currents of European thought had contributed. The past, and therefore history as a cultural practice, was particularly important in the age of nationalism and empires. In this article I analyze how certain religious topics such as the ‘historical Jesus’ and the relevance of the Kabbalah were elaborated in the early modern period and readdressed, with different religious and cultural agendas, in the nineteenth century.

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