FRAL - Appel Franco-allemand en sciences humaines et sociales

A Hebrew Dante: Moshe da Rieti's "Miqdash Me'at," its Cultural Background and its Reception – Rieti

Submission summary

Moshe ben Yitz?aq of Rieti (Mosè di Gaio, Rieti 1388-Rome, before 1466) was the main Jewish-Italian philosopher and poet of the first half of the 15th century. His main work, Miqdash me’at (Little Sanctuary) is a poem of about 5000 Hebrew verses in terza rima (the meter used in Dante’s Divine Comedy) with a religious, scientific and philosophical content. Using a subdivision that corresponds to the different areas of the Jerusalem Temple, Rieti expounds first the profane or “external” sciences of the medieval trivium and quadrivium. He specifically refers to various ancient Greek thinkers, such as Aristotle, Euclid, Ptolemy and Porphyry, as well as Arab (al-Farabi, al-Ghazali, Avicenna, Averroes) and Jewish (Gersonides) philosophers. His principal point of reference is Maimonides, who “reconciled” the profane sciences with the Torah. Among all disciplines, poetry occupies a special place, as it allows the author’s love of intellectual contemplation to express itself fully. Another section of the work includes a description of Paradise, reminiscent of Dante in the general inspiration but also in the use of elements drawn from Jewish literary tradition.
Rieti’s work probably represents the late stage of a Jewish-Italian school of thought, initiated by the philosopher Judah Romano (ca. 1293-after 1330), that associates the centrality of Maimonides’ rationalistic thought and neo-platonic elements drawn from the Liber de causis. The idea of the loss of knowledge, and their possible recovery through semi-prophetic visions, expressed in that school, is particularly emphasized in Rieti’s work. His oeuvre is among the most important and original poetic/philosophical endeavors of the Late Middle Age/early Renaissance Jewish and Italian culture; but is accessible only through a 19th century incomplete edition, without notes or commentary.
A French/German research group, whose principal investigators have complementary research skills and experiences (and worked together in the past), together with some young researchers, plan a thorough study of it, that will include a complete English prose-translation and a critical edition with extensive notes and an in-depth research of the cultural context and reception. Alessandro Guetta (INALCO, Paris) is a specialist of Jewish-Italian intellectual history (mainly Philosophy and literature) and has already written extensively on Moshe da Rieti; Elisabeth Hollender (Goethe University, Frankfurt) is a specialist of Hebrew poetry and commentaries of Hebrew religious poetry. Three years of philological, philosophical and literary research will make a remarkable and virtually unknown work of European-Jewish literature of the late Middle Age available to specialists and a broader audience.

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The author of this summary is the project coordinator, who is responsible for the content of this summary. The ANR declines any responsibility as for its contents.


Goethe University Frankfurt/Main

Help of the ANR 240,624 euros
Beginning and duration of the scientific project: March 2021 - 36 Months

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