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The First Modern JewSpinoza and the History of an Image$
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Daniel B. Schwartz

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780691142913

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691142913.001.0001

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Ex-Jew, Eternal Jew

Ex-Jew, Eternal Jew

Early Representations of the Jewish Spinoza

(p.15) Chapter 1 Ex-Jew, Eternal Jew
The First Modern Jew

Daniel B. Schwartz

Princeton University Press

This chapter analyzes the “prehistory” of the Jewish rehabilitation of Spinoza, exploring how his Jewish origins figured in fashioning him into a cultural symbol among non-Jews first. It traces his shifting image across a spectrum of modern Jewish movements and milieus, from the Berlin Haskalah to early religious Reform and Wissenschaft des Judentums (the Science of Judaism) in Germany to the East European Haskalah, Zionism, and Yiddish culture. The chapter discusses the relevance of Spinoza's Jewishness to this early mythmaking. The shapers of Spinoza's early image typically assigned his Jewishness a significant role, albeit not a positive one. Two basic plotlines relevant to this particularity developed in the late seventeenth and first half of the eighteenth century: one emphasized contrast, the other continuity.

Keywords:   Jewish Spinoza, Jewish origins, East European Haskalah, Zionism, Jewish movements, mythmaking, Judaism, Yiddish cultures

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