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Blood and Belief: The Circulation of a Symbol Between Jews and Christians

by David Biale

With his characteristic wit and erudition, David Biale traces the continuing, changing, and often clashing roles of blood as both symbol and substance through the entire sweep of Jewish and Christian history from Biblical times to the present.

Cultures of the Jews: A New History

by David Biale

Who are "the Jews"? Scattered over much of the world throughout most of their three-thousand-year-old history, are they one people or many? How do they resemble and how do they differ from Jews in other places and times? What have their relationships been to the cultures of their neighbors? To address these and similar questions, twenty-three of the finest scholars of our day--archaeologists, cultural historians, literary critics, art historians , folklorists, and historians of relation, all affiliated with major academic institutions in the United States, Israel, and France--have contributed their insight to Cultures of the Jews. The premise of their endeavor is that although Jews have always had their own autonomous traditions, Jewish identity cannot be considered immutable, the fixed product of either ancient ethnic or religious origins. Rather, it has shifted and assumed new forms in response to the cultural environment in which the Jews have lived. Building their essays on specific cultural artifacts--a poem, a letter, a traveler's account, a physical object of everyday or ritual use--that were made in the period and locale they study, the contributors describe the cultural interactions among different Jews--from rabbis and scholars to non-elite groups, including women--as well as between Jews and the surrounding non-Jewish world. Part One, "Mediterranean Origins," describes the concept of the "People" or "Nation" of Israel that emerges in the Hebrew Bible and the culture of the Israelites in relation to that of the Canaanite groups. It goes on to discuss Jewish cultures in the Greco-Roman world, Palestine during the Byzantine period, Babylonia, and Arabia during the formative years of Islam. Part Two, "Diversities of Diaspora," illuminates Judeo-Arabic culture in the Golden Age of Islam, Sephardic culture as it bloomed first if the Iberian Peninsula and later in Amsterdam, the Jewish-Christian symbiosis in Ashkenazic Europe and in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, the culture of the Italian Jews of the Renaissance period, and the many strands of folklore, magic, and material culture that run through diaspora Jewish history. Part Three, "Modern Encounters," examines communities, ways of life, and both high and fold culture in Western, Central, and Eastern Europe, the Ladino Diaspora, North Africa and the Middle East, Ethiopia, Zionist Palestine and the State of Israel, and, finally, the United States. Cultures of the Jews is a landmark, representing the fruits of the present generation of scholars in Jewish studies and offering a new foundation upon which all future research into Jewish history will be based. Its unprecedented interdisciplinary approach will resonate widely among general readers and the scholarly community, both Jewish and non-Jewish, and it will change the terms of the never-ending debate over what constitutes Jewish identity.

Cultures of the Jews, Volume 2

by David Biale

Scattered over much of the world throughout most of their history, are the Jews one people or many? How do they resemble and how do they differ from Jews in other places and times? What have their relationships been to the cultures of their neighbors? To address these and similar questions, some of the finest scholars of our day have contributed their insights to Cultures of the Jews, a winner of the National Jewish Book Award upon its hardcover publication in 2002. Constructing their essays around specific cultural artifacts that were created in the period and locale under study, the contributors describe the cultural interactions among different Jews-from rabbis and scholars to non-elite groups, including women-as well as between Jews and the surrounding non-Jewish world. What they conclude is that although Jews have always had their own autonomous traditions, Jewish identity cannot be considered the fixed product of either ancient ethnic or religious origins. Rather, it has shifted and assumed new forms in response to the cultural environment in which the Jews have lived.Diversities of Diaspora, the second volume in Cultures of the Jews, illuminates Judeo-Arabic culture in the Golden Age of Islam; Sephardic culture as it bloomed first on the Iberian Peninsula and later in Amsterdam; and the Jewish-Christian symbiosis in Ashkenazic Europe. It also discusses Jewish culture in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth; the culture of the Italian Jews of the Renaissance period; and representations of folklore and material culture through childbirth rituals throughout the Jewish diaspora.From the Trade Paperback edition.

Not in the Heavens

by David Biale

Not in the Heavens traces the rise of Jewish secularism through the visionary writers and thinkers who led its development. Spanning the rich history of Judaism from the Bible to today, David Biale shows how the secular tradition these visionaries created is a uniquely Jewish one, and how the emergence of Jewish secularism was not merely a response to modernity but arose from forces long at play within Judaism itself. Biale explores how ancient Hebrew books like Job, Song of Songs, and Esther downplay or even exclude God altogether, and how Spinoza, inspired by medieval Jewish philosophy, recast the biblical God in the role of nature and stripped the Torah of its revelatory status to instead read scripture as a historical and cultural text. Biale examines the influential Jewish thinkers who followed in Spinoza's secularizing footsteps, such as Salomon Maimon, Heinrich Heine, Sigmund Freud, and Albert Einstein. He tells the stories of those who also took their cues from medieval Jewish mysticism in their revolts against tradition, including Hayim Nahman Bialik, Gershom Scholem, and Franz Kafka. And he looks at Zionists like David Ben-Gurion and other secular political thinkers who recast Israel and the Bible in modern terms of race, nationalism, and the state. Not in the Heavens demonstrates how these many Jewish paths to secularism were dependent, in complex and paradoxical ways, on the very religious traditions they were rejecting, and examines the legacy and meaning of Jewish secularism today.

Not in the Heavens: The Tradition of Jewish Secular Thought

by David Biale

Not in the Heavenstraces the rise of Jewish secularism through the visionary writers and thinkers who led its development. Spanning the rich history of Judaism from the Bible to today, David Biale shows how the secular tradition these visionaries created is a uniquely Jewish one, and how the emergence of Jewish secularism was not merely a response to modernity but arose from forces long at play within Judaism itself. Biale explores how ancient Hebrew books like Job, Song of Songs, and Esther downplay or even exclude God altogether, and how Spinoza, inspired by medieval Jewish philosophy, recast the biblical God in the role of nature and stripped the Torah of its revelatory status to instead read scripture as a historical and cultural text. Biale examines the influential Jewish thinkers who followed in Spinoza's secularizing footsteps, such as Salomon Maimon, Heinrich Heine, Sigmund Freud, and Albert Einstein. He tells the stories of those who also took their cues from medieval Jewish mysticism in their revolts against tradition, including Hayim Nahman Bialik, Gershom Scholem, and Franz Kafka. And he looks at Zionists like David Ben-Gurion and other secular political thinkers who recast Israel and the Bible in modern terms of race, nationalism, and the state. Not in the Heavensdemonstrates how these many Jewish paths to secularism were dependent, in complex and paradoxical ways, on the very religious traditions they were rejecting, and examines the legacy and meaning of Jewish secularism today.

Power and Powerlessness in Jewish History

by David Biale

To shed light on the tensions he observed between Jewish perceptions of power versus political realities which "are often the cause of misguided political decisions," like Israel's Lebanese War Biale analyzes Jewish history from the point of view of politics and power. The author of Gershom Scholem: Kabbalah and Counter-History here challenges the conventions of what he terms the Jewish "mythical past": the anachronistic interpretation that the Diaspora, which occurred between the fall of an independent Jewish commonwealth in A.D. 70 and the rebirth of the State of Israel in 1948, was politically impotent, and, conversely, that the First and Second Temple periods were eras of full Jewish national sovereignty.

Thinking Impossibilities

by David Biale Robert S. Westman

Intellectuals rarely make a significant impact on one field of scholarship let alone several, yet Amos Funkenstein (1937-1995) displayed an intellectual range that encompassed several disciplines and broke new ground across seemingly impenetrable scholarly boundaries. The philosophy of history from antiquity to modernity, medieval and early modern history of science, medieval scholasticism, Jewish history in all of its periods - these are all areas in which he made lasting contributions. Thinking Impossibilities brings together Funkenstein's colleagues, friends, and former students to engage with important aspects of his intellectual legacy.Funkenstein's diverse interests were bound together by common figures of thought, especially the search for pre-modern intellectual groundings of modern ideas and how the seeming 'impossibilities' of one historical moment might become positive resources of conceptual construction and development in another. The essays in this volume take up major themes in European intellectual history, and examine them through the unique lens that Funkenstein himself employed during his career. Of particular interest are ways in which topics of Jewish history are engaged with the larger field of the history of ideas in the West. Richly interdisciplinary and full of fresh insights, Thinking Impossibilities is a fitting tribute to an important twentieth-century scholar.

Showing 1 through 7 of 7 results

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