Daniel B. Schwartz. The First Modern Jew: Spinoza and the History of an Image.

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This wide-ranging and piercing study exhibits impressive familiarity with the long list of original analyses of Baruch Spinoza's life and philosophy. Daniel B. Schwartz's goal is not to interpret Spinoza himself, but rather to chronicle key reflections of his Jewish reception over the past 250 years. Secularizing Jews have construed Spinoza as a “cultural icon” or found in him a “usable past” that serves as precedent for their own personal and ideological deviations from traditional Jewish practices and principles. The ongoing Jewish fascination with this Amsterdam-born philosopher who pioneered the rejection of Jewish fundamentals in the seventeenth century and was banned by his Spanish-Portuguese community—but who still rejected the option of apostasy—is the focus of Schwartz's learned examination.
Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)923-924
Number of pages2
JournalAmerican Historical Review
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 May 2013


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