This book explores past expressions of the Jewish interest in Hinduism in order to learn what Hinduism has meant to Jews living mainly in the 12th through the 19th centuries. India and Hinduism, though never at the center of Jewish thought, claim a place in its history, in the picture Jews held of the wider world, of other religions and other human beings. Each chapter focuses on a specific author or text and examines the literary context as well as the cultural context, within and outside Jewish society, that provided images and ideas about India and its religions. Overall the volume constructs a history of ideas that changed over time with different writers in different settings. It will be especially relevant to scholars interested in Jewish thought, comparative religion, interreligious dialogue, and intellectual history.
Table of Contents
PART I: India’s idolaters, magicians, scientists, philosophers, and ascetics: 12–14th centuries
1. Judah Ha-Levi: “Idols, Talismans, and Ruses”
2. Abraham Ibn Ezra and the Aristotelian astrologers
3. The kingdoms of South Asia and the hierarchy of religions in Benjamin of Tudela’s Book of Travels
4. Translations and transformations: Glorious wisdom: Jacob ben El`azar and India’s Panchatantra
5. Translations and transformations: Immanuel Bonfils, the Brahmans, and Alexander the Great
PART II: The Indian history of a biblical verse: Partial revelation 17th and 20th centuries
6. Genesis 25:6, Menasseh ben Israel, and the east
PART III: New paths to India: 19th century
7. Samson Bloch: Indian philosophy and priestly system
8. David d’Beth Hillel: The hidden meanings of temple Hinduism
9. Jacob Sapir: Temple Hinduism as Torah-study
Richard G. Marks is Professor Emeritus in the Department of Religion at Washington and Lee University, USA.