Benjamin Fisher

  • Fellowship year:2010-2011
  • University: University of Pennsylvania
  • Dissertation Topic/Category: Jewish History
  • Dissertation Title: The Centering of the Bible in Seventeenth-Century Amsterdam: Jewish Religion, Culture, and Scholarship
  • Benjamin Fisher argues that the place of the Bible in early modern Jewish society was transformed by the encounter with Protestant society and religious culture. The Jewish community of seventeenth century Amsterdam constructed a Jewish culture centered on the Bible that was unique and without precedent in the medieval and early modern Jewish world. The dissertation demonstrates the central place of the Bible in the educational culture of Amsterdam’s Portuguese Jews. It argues that the centrality of the Bible in education was a product of a Jewish culture immersed in Reformation theology. It explores additional dimensions in which Jewish approaches to studying scripture were shaped by Protestant models of biblical exegesis, and through encounters between Portuguese Jewish rabbis and the surrounding Christian society of the United Provinces.