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Amsterdam and the inception of the jewish republic of letters

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Chapter Summary

Amsterdam played a central role in at least two of the processes that took place in Jewish cultural history in the early modern period: in the development of a new stage in Jewish library awareness; and in the inception of a Jewish, traditional republic of letters. This chapter demonstrates this centrality through the analysis of two noteworthy Ashkenazi rabbinic figures of Amsterdam, R. Shimon Frankfurt (1634-1712) and his son R. Moshe Frankfurt. It draws attention to another work of R. Shimon's, Sefer Yitnu, which he wrote in his late years, and which remains in manuscript form, having never been printed. The compendium of traditional exegetical works served the spiritual needs of former conversos familiar with Christian culture. The term "republic of letters," in the sense of an autonomous sociocultural space, first appeared in the late fifteenth century, in the context of Renaissance Humanism.

Keywords: Amsterdam; Christian culture; early modern period; Jewish republic of letters



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