Wissenschaft des Judentums in an Anglo-Jewish Context
by Daniel Langton, Manchester
There seems to be a consensus among historians of Anglo-Jewry that, in relation to Wissenschaft des Judentums (the critical investigation of Jewish literature and culture), Britain was something of an intellectual backwater, its academics originating from foreign lands and trained abroad, and its learning derived in large measure from the Continent. The fact that just before he abandoned England for New York, one of its most celebrated scholars of Judaism, Solomon Schechter, publicly castigated Anglo-Jewry’s ignorance and anti-intellectualism, does not help dispel the impression that its centres of Jewish learning were parochial and ineffectual, best regarded as transit stops for scholars moving on. Is this image of wandering Jews in England’s green and pleasant land a fair one? This lecture summarises the findings of a recent quixotic survey of Anglo-Jewish scholarship before the Second World War, that attempted to identify the key individuals and institutions, to indicate some of the ways that they related to each other and to continental influences, and to set it all out in chronological order.
Daniel Langton is Professor of the History of Jewish-Christian Relations at the University of Manchester and co-director of its Centre for Jewish Studies. Major publications include Claude Montefiore: His Life and Thought (2002) and The Apostle Paul in the Jewish Imagination (2010). Recently he has been the recipient of Leverhulme funding for a project on Jewish Engagement with Darwinism (2013-15) and is currently an AHRC Leadership Fellow working on the influence of atheism and scepticism upon modern Jewish thought (2016-17).
UCL, Medical Sciences Anatomy Building, Gower Street
Reception: Gavin de Beer Room Lecture: JZ Young Lecture Theatre