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Jesuit Influence on Italian Jewish Culture in the 16th and 17th Centuries

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Chapter Summary

This chapter presents examples of Jesuit influence on Italian Jewish culture. The Jewish Italian historian Attilio Milano regarded the ghetto as a kind of monastery in which Jews could live according to their laws and traditions. During the early modern period, the Catholic church and the rabbis had two common goals: to safeguard their respective traditions, and to adapt them to a modern cultural context. The rabbis often adopted culturally Catholic models, adjusting them to their needs and for a Jewish milieu. The descriptions of Solomon's Temple made by the Jesuit Juan Bautista Villalpando (1552-1608) and the Mantuan Jewish physician Abraham ben David Portaleone offer good examples of the push, characteristic of both the Catholic church and Judaism in the 16th and 17th centuries, to integrate secular sciences and religious tradition. Villalpando's and Portaleone's works are based on the Theatrum sapientiae, a visual encyclopedia of Giulio Camillo Delminio.

Keywords: Abraham ben David Portaleone; Catholic church; Italian Jewish culture; Jesuit; Juan Bautista Villalpando; Judaism; Solomon's Temple



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