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Publisher's 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

What listeners say about Between Cross and Crescent: Jewish Civilization from Mohammed to Spinoza

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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.

10 people found this helpful

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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.

8 people found this helpful

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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.

5 people found this helpful

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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.

7 people found this helpful

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Excellent history.

A comprehensive overview of the history of the Jews and how the Diaspora developed. When anti-Semitism began.
Very enlightening.

1 person found this helpful

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Magnificent in all respects

I've been studying history of this area of world for many years. This professor's excitement and mastery of the subject great enhanced my understanding of interactions of cultures existing in this very troubled area

1 person found this helpful

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Very knowledgeable

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

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  • JK
  • 04-06-22

OUTSTANDING

Professor Ruderman opens his lectures with an interesting observation: there is no such thing as “objective “ history. Studying certain histories has a lot to do with our own “autobiography “.
So true. I am very much drawn to Jewish history and consequently have read a lot about the subject.
These lectures are certainly OUTSTANDING, need I say more.
I immediately bought the only other book by professor Ruderman,
“Jewish intellectual history”, 16th to the 20th century, available on Audible.
My thanks to all involved for making these courses available to us, Jk.

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Biased view of the Jewish history. Very shallow.

Unbelievably biased view of the history where lecturer often indirectly mocks other beliefs christians and muslim of the time.


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Fascinating introduction

David Ruderman is a fascinating lecturer: knowledgeable and easy to listen to. While he is clearly an expert in his subject area, and almost anyone can learn something from this lecture, this is a broad introduction to its subject matter, and oriented toward the novice. Each lecture is 30 minutes, so topics are merely touched. But it’s greatest strength may be that it may inspire listeners to explore elsewhere in greater depth one or more of the topics mentioned. One further point: While Professor Ruderman clearly is coming from a very liberal perspective, he tries hard to be objective in his lectures, and generally succeeds.

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  • Jonathan Lowenstein
  • 01-20-22

wow! Great overview of Jewish history

I have background knowledge which helped, but this was an eye opener. Especially good if you live in Israel, you can find out who the Rabbis with street names were.