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David Price – How the Renaissance Discovered Hebrew

Rabbi Ari Lamm speaks with Price about the all-important Christian scholar Johannes Reuchlin

One of the climactic moments of the Renaissance was the European rediscovery of the Hebrew language. Knowledge of Hebrew — and intensive study of both the Hebrew Bible and Jewish rabbinic literature — would sweep across Europe, and end up fundamentally reshaping everything from personal spirituality to the nature and structure of politics in the West.

And yet, at the very same time all of this was underway, a plot was hatched to completely eradicate Judaism forever in the Holy Roman Empire—a plot that, had it succeeded, could have swept across the rest of Europe as well. Only one person was prepared to take a principled stand against it. That man was a Christian scholar named Johannes Reuchlin. And his fight to defend Jews and Jewish learning would shape the moral and political trajectory of the West to this very day.

Reuchlin studied Hebrew and Jewish literature with some of the legendary figures in Jewish history—including Rabbi Obadiah Sforno—and would be remembered by towering figures of later periods as one of “the righteous among the nations”. But few people today know his story.

So on this episode, Rabbi Ari unpacked it together with Vanderbilt University historian David Price, who literally wrote the book on Reuchlin! Listen here:

About Good Faith Effort: The Hebrew Bible is every bit America’s moral founding document as the Constitution is our political founding document. Every week, Rabbi Dr. Ari Lamm speaks with thinkers, writers, artists, and faith leaders to explore how the Bible continues to inform our lives today, from politics to psychology to pop culture, bringing Americans of different traditions and persuasions closer together as so much else threatens to pull us apart.

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