Document Type

Book Chapter

Date of this Version


Publication Source

Preachers of the Italian Ghetto

Start Page


Last Page



The age in which the preachers of the Italian ghettos delivered their sermons was also the great age of scientific discovery in Europe. Far removed both geographically and culturally from the cramped but ornate synagogues of Venice, Ferrara, or Mantua, Galileo peered through his famous telescope, Vesalius performed his revolutionary anatomical experiments, and Bacon and Descartes reflected deeply on the new methods of fathoming the natural world from their own distinctive perspectives. Beyond the walls ostensibly separating Jews from the social and cultural life of their Christian contemporaries, a revolution was taking place in astronomy, in physics, and in the life sciences. This revolution was accompanied by a thorough diffusion of scientific knowledge accelerated through printed books; by a dramatic re-evaluation of what constitutes knowledge and the authority it commands in European culture, and by a radical transformation in the ways human beings view the cosmos and their place within it.

Copyright/Permission Statement

Published as Ruderman, D.B. Jewish Preaching and the Language of Science: The Sermons of Azariah Figo. In Ruderman, D.B. (Ed.), Preachers of the Italian Ghetto, (pp. 89-104). © 1992 by the Regents of the University of California. Copying and permissions notice: Authorization to copy this content beyond fair use (as specified in Sections 107 and 108 of the U. S. Copyright Law) for internal or personal use, or the internal or personal use of specific clients, is granted by the Regents of the University of California for libraries and other users, provided that they are registered with and pay the specified fee via Rightslink® or directly with the Copyright Clearance Center.


At the time of this publication, Dr. Ruderman was affiliated with Yale University, but he is now a faculty member at the University of Pennsylvania.



Date Posted: 03 August 2017