Between Cross and Crescent: Jewish Civilization from Mohammed to Spinoza : The Great Courses: Intellectual History

  • by The Great Courses
  • Narrated by Professor David B. Ruderman
  • Series: The Great Courses: Intellectual History
  • 12 hrs and 5 mins
  • Lecture

Publisher's Summary

Experience the evolution of all of Jewish life during the 10 critical centuries from its rabbinic foundations in late antiquity until the dawn of modernity in the 17th century. During this time, Judaism was forever affected by its encounters with the surrounding social, economic, political, and intellectual environments of both medieval Islam and Christendom.
As a result of those encounters, new pathways of philosophical inquiry and religious spirituality would be formed. The Hebrew language would find new ways of artistic expression. And the role of Jews in the life of the surrounding community would be changed forever, sometimes even increased, as was the paradoxical case in Italy, by the very ghettoization meant to keep them isolated.
These 24 insightful lectures give you a unique perspective from which to examine the three major Western religions as they interact over time, and noting especially their ability or inability to tolerate and even appreciate the "other", as viewed from the vantage point of the Jewish minority. They also feature the emergence of two distinct intellectual threads: the rise of medieval Jewish philosophy and the appearance of Jewish mysticism and piety as the faith's primary expressions of religiosity.
These lectures span an enormous disciplinary range, moving back and forth among history, philosophy, religion, and art. No previous familiarity with Jewish, Islamic, or Christian history is necessary to enjoy this broad and detailed examination of the leading Jewish communities of the period, their political and economic structures, the social relations between Jews and non-Jews, and Jewish cultural and intellectual achievements in a premodern world dominated by two other faiths.


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Fascinating and Comprehensible

This is an area of history which I personally knew little about and had a hard time finding ways to learn about it.

The audiobook is a gold mine in this sense. The professor is eloquent, knowledgeable, and organizes the information in a way which it makes it all easy to understand and digest.

The style-- being a lecture-- is conversational, so I found much easier to listen to than a nonfiction book.
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- Andy

Starts slow and abstract, but improves

Early on, I caught myself thinking, it took all those words to explain that fairly simple philosophical point? But it grew on me. As with many professors who are somewhat passionate about their topic, the chapters tend to start with a fairly level voice delivery and to pick up in pitch and insistence as the lecture progresses, sometimes hitting my ears with a bit of shrillness. (I hope my lectures are not like that, but I'm afraid they are!) By the time we arrived at the Rhine Valley and the Christian world, I found the explanations moving quite well, with a fine mix of doctrine and events on the ground. Things were worse under some Christians from an earlier date than I had thought (not that I'm a scholar of this). Much insight is gained about more recent history and culture -- the roots go deep.
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- Phil O.

Book Details

  • Release Date: 07-08-2013
  • Publisher: The Great Courses