Review of Yosef Kaplan, Henry Méchoulan, and Richard H. Popkin, Menasseh ben Israel and His World
History of Christianity
History of Religion
This volume is the result of a conference held in Israel in 1982 on the many aspects of the life and career of Menassh ben Israel (1604-57), described by Richard Popkin in his introduction "as a popular Jewish preacher and publisher, as a point of contact for the Jewish and Christian worlds, especially in Holland and England, as an intriguing actor in the messianic and millenarian dramas of the time, and as a thinker in his own right" (p. vii). Because of considerable scholarly interest in Dutch Sephardic Jewry in recent years (ably summarized by Yosef Kaplan in this volume, unfortunately without accompanying annotation), and because Menasseh, probably the best-known Jewish scholar of seventeenth-century Amsterdam other than Spinoza, represents "a natural and ideal focus for the encounter between Jewish and general history," in the words of Michael Heyd (p. 262), the book is certainly a welcome contribution to the study of both the Christian and Jewish communities and their intense interactions.