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Orientalism and Monotheism: Renan on Judaism and Islam

Orientalism and Monotheism: Renan on Judaism and Islam

Date(s) - 01/28/2021
12:00 pm - 1:00 pm

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Judaic Studies

Free, Livestream / Virtual

Lecture by Guy G. Stroumsa, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, followed by roundtable conversation with John M. Efron, University of California, Berkeley

Throughout the nineteenth century, the birth of what one may call philologia orientalis and the discovery of the linguistic similarities between Sanskrit and European languages radically transformed the perception of the East, much weakening the idea of a family relationship between Judaism, Christianity and Islam. The case of Ernest Renan (1823-1892) is here emblematic. The lecture will survey Renan’s conception of Judaism and Islam, through his invention of the category of “Semitic religions.” We shall reflect on its consequences on the study of monotheism among historians of religions, as well as on the development of anti-Semitism and Islamophobia in the last decades of the century.
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