Price  £9.99
Format  Paperback
Published  March 2004
Length  360 pages
ISBN  9781870015820
ISBN  9781905559510 (ebook)

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Moses Mendelssohn & the Religious Enlightenment
David Sorkin


Moses Mendelssohn (1729–1786) was the premier Jewish thinker of his day and one of the best-known figures of the German Enlightenment, earning the sobriquet ‘the Socrates of Berlin’.

He was thoroughly involved in the central issue of Enlightenment religious thinking: the inevitable conflict between reason and revelation in an age contending with individual rights and religious toleration. He did not aspire to a comprehensive philosophy of Judaism, since he thought human reason was limited, but he did see Judaism as compatible with toleration and rights.

David Sorkin offers a close study of Mendelssohn’s complete writings, treating the German, and the often-neglected Hebrew writings, as a single corpus and arguing that Mendelssohn’s two spheres of endeavour were entirely consistent.


About David Sorkin

David Sorkin is the Frances and Lawrence Weinstein Professor of Jewish Studies and the Director of the Institute of Research in the Humanities at the University of Wisconsin–Madison.

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‘a first-rate introduction to the most important figure in modern Jewish thought…Clearly structured and elegantly written’

     Journal of Jewish Studies

‘Sorkin has established himself as on of the most insightful scholars of modern Jewish intellectual history’

     David N. Myers, University of California, Los Angeles

‘Sorkin has produced a valuable addition to the small library of one of the greatest thinkers in European Jewish history.’

     Judaism Today

‘Sorkin’s book…opens up a world of Mendelssohn’s thought hitherto hidden from most readers…an important contributions to the study of Mendelssohn, and furthermore to the analysis of the relationship between the Jewish and non-Jewish Enlightenment.'

     Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

‘Sorkin had written a superb scholarly treatise and has helped reconstruct the life and times of what many would call the first modern Jew, that is to say, the Jew committed to his faith who stands unafraid of all the aspects of modernity.’