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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.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your Library section along with the audio.

©2005 The Teaching Company, LLC (P)2005 The Great Courses

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  • Philo
  • 06-10-14

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.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

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  • Andy
  • 03-12-14

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.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • SAMA
  • 12-08-15

A good introduction on Jewish relations

This book helps clarify how Jews fit (or didn't fit) into Muslim and Christian societies. Some ideas come across as a little surprising, such as how Muslims actually treated them better than European Christians.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Norman
  • 05-06-15

Enjoyed the lectures

Any additional comments?

I've enjoyed both of Prof. Ruderman's courses available on Audible. It would be very helpful if the course outlines were made available for downloading.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Old Tom Bombadil
  • 06-08-18

Excellent and Interesting

I know a good deal about world history, but I hadn't known as much about medieval Jewish history as I would have liked and this course was an excellent way to fill in some of that gap.

I felt that Professor Ruderman tried very hard to be balanced towards the Jews, Christians, and Muslims throughout the course but I believe he made a misinterpretation of the Gospel of John. He claimed that John's Gospel was different from Matthew, Mark, and Luke in that it was openly hostile to the Jewish people. He claims that when Jesus spoke against people he disagreed with in the Gospel of John that Jesus was speaking against all Jews. I do not agree with his interpretation.

Firstly, Jesus was Jewish along with all of his disciples, all of the first Christians, and almost all of the authors of what the Christians call the New Testament. Thus, Jesus could not be speaking against all Jews because he would be speaking against himself, his disciples, all the early Christians, etc. When Jesus spoke against the crowds and religious leaders who did not believe him he was speaking against those people, not all Jews. Also, Jesus was speaking in the tradition of the Jewish prophets in the Tanakh who often spoke out against the Jewish leaders and people for disobeying G-d. Now, I am not saying whether Jesus was right or wrong in how he spoke out against others, but I do not believe that one can reasonably claim that he was speaking against all Jewish people for the previously stated reasons such as the fact that Jesus, his mother Mary, all his disciples, and the other first Christians were all Jewish.

Now, perhaps what Professor Ruderman meant is that Jesus and his disciples were not really religiously Jewish because of what they believed about Jesus. Jesus and his disciples saw themselves as both ethnically and religiously Jewish. They believed that Jesus was the Jewish Moshiach. It is not unreasonable to disagree with what they believed, but I believe it is unreasonable to say that they felt that they were no longer Jews because of what they believed about Jesus.

That is my interpretation and while I disagree with Professor Ruderman in this one specific area, I greatly appreciate his work and I am looking forward to listening to more of his courses that are offered through Audible.

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  • Howard Sterling
  • 01-02-17

I learned a lot

About a period I thought I knew about. Professor Ruderman is almost, not deep enough for me.

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  • beotherworldly
  • 18-12-15

Very knowledgeable

Very informative lecture. Jewish history is rather depressing, but you get a strong sense of how resilient Jews are.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Michael Sheber
  • 01-06-15

Ruderman is an apologist for Jew Killers

This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

Muslims and Christians

What other book might you compare Between Cross and Crescent: Jewish Civilization from Mohammed to Spinoza to and why?

Living in the House Of Ishmael

How could the performance have been better?

Ruderman could stop saying " in another words" and stop excusing the killing of Jews.

You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

None

Any additional comments?

Ruderman should not do any more lectures.

0 of 12 people found this review helpful