Political Hebraism and the Early Modern ‘Respublica Hebraeorum’: On Defining the Field

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Abstract: This paper raises the question of the term “political Hebraism” as used with respect to early modernity, and distinguishes between a narrow definition of Christian Hebraism and a broader conception of “Hebraic writing.” Early modern political Hebraism is described as a unique phenomenon which treated the biblical polity as a historical entity that could be compared to other types of polities studied by political thinkers. Within political Hebraism, a genre of writing in this period dealing with the ‘Respublica Hebraeorum,’ or the republic of the Hebrews as a political model, is identified as a distinguishable unit. Although the works in this genre did not share a political vision, they created a common language of political discourse that in turn may have influenced thinkers such as Hobbes and Spinoza.

Biography: Kalman Neuman holds a PhD in History from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. His dissertation, written under the supervision of Professor Michael Heyd, was on “The Literature of the Respublica Hebraeorum : Depictions of the Ancient Israelite State in Early Modern Europe.”   He is an ordained rabbi, has studied at various yeshivot and is an alumnus of the Mandel Jerusalem Fellows program. In addition to early modern political Hebraism, his interests include questions of philosophy of halacha as well as the religious Zionist application of halacha to contemporary political questions.

Volume 1, Number 1 (Fall 2005) pp. 57-70