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[Conference] Oxford Seminar in Advanced Studies

‘The Mishnah in Early Modern Europe: Jewish Law for Christians and Jews’

24-25 June 2019,

Clarendon Institute,

Walton Street, Oxford, OX1 2HG

This conference is the culmination of a six-month international research project, based at the Oxford Centre for Hebrew and Jewish Studies, and led by Piet van Boxel and Joanna Weinberg. It also features a session at the Weston Library, where conference speakers will introduce highlights from the Bodleian's holdings of early-modern Mishnah editions.

In the seventeenth century, Christians -- and, especially, Protestants -- studied the Mishnah alongside a host of Jewish commentaries in order to reconstruct Jewish culture, history, and ritual, shedding new light on the world of both the Old and New Testaments. Their work was also inextricably dependent upon the vigorous Mishnaic studies of early-modern Jewish communities. Both traditions, in a sense, culminated in the edition and Latin translation of the Mishnah published by Guilielmus Surenhusius (Willem Surenhuis) in Amsterdam between 1698 and 1703. Surenhusius gathered up more than a century's worth of Mishnaic studies by scholars from England, Germany, the Netherlands, and Sweden, but his edition was also born out of the unique milieu of Amsterdam at the end of the seventeenth century, a place which offered possibilities for cross-cultural interactions between Jews and Christians. The conference will excavate the long-term currents within the history of Christian and Jewish scholarship, as well as the more immediate contexts, which made Surenhusius' achievement possible.

We are grateful for the support of the Polonsky Foundation for funding the project.




Judith Olszowy-Schlanger (OCHJS) Welcome

Piet van Boxel (OCHJS) Introduction

Willem Surenhuis and the study of the Mishnah in Early Modern Europe

10.15-10.35 [Chair: Nicholas Hardy]

Thomas Roebuck (University of East Anglia)

"He sent his son to him to learn": Robert Sheringham (1602/3-1678) and the Teaching of the Mishnah


Marcello Cattaneo (University of Oxford)

Christian Approaches to Jewish Law: the Case of the Mishneh Torah in England between the Late Seventeenth and the Early Eighteenth Centuries

10.55-11.15 Discussion

11.15-11.45 Coffee

11.45-12.05 [Chair: Martin Goodman]

Asaph Ben-Tov (Wolfenbüttel)

Pirke Avot at a Lutheran University: the case of Anton Julius von der Hardt (Helmstedt 1728)


Edward Fram (Ben Gurion University/Institute of Advanced Studies, Jerusalem)

Rabbi Yom Tov Lippmann Heller’s Commentary of the Mishnah: some Preliminary Observations on Sources, Scope, and Influence

12.25-12.45 Discussion

12.45-14.00 Lunch

14.00-14.20 [Chair: Judith Olszowy Schlanger]

Omer Michaelis (Tel Aviv University)

'There stood a messenger sent from Rome': on the Translators’ Prefaces to Maimonides’ Commentary on the Mishnah


Benjamin Williams (Leo Baeck College and University of Oxford)

Opening the Gates of Moses: Edward Pococke, the Mishnah, and the Porta Mosis (Oxford: 1655)


Yosef Kaplan(Hebrew University of Jerusalem)

“El sabio Jacob Abendana” and the Spanish translation(s) of the Mishnah

15.00-15.30 Discussion

15.30-16.15 Tea + 15 minutes walking time to Weston Library

16.15-18.00 Display of Early Modern Mishnah editions and commentarieswith short presentations


10.00-10.20 [Chair: Noel Malcolm]

David Sclar (Harvard University)

Books in the Ets Haim Yesiba: Acquisition, Curriculum, and Western Sephardic Rabbinicization


Dirk van Miert (Utrecht University)

Surenhusius' Northern European networks


Piet van Boxel (OCHJS)

The Transalpine Journey of Surenhusius’ Mishnaic ‘filioli’

11.00-11.20 Discussion

11.20-11.50 Coffee

11.50-12.10 [Chair: Tim Twining]

Kirsten Macfarlane (Trinity College, University of Cambridge)

Guilielmus Surenhusius, the Mishnah and the New Testament


Richard Cohen (Hebrew University, Jerusalem)

The Engagement of Christians and Jews with Jewish Ritual in Early Modern Europe

12.30-12.50 Discussion

12.50-14.15 Lunch

14.15-14.35 [Chair: César Merchán-Hamann]

Ada Rapoport-Albert (University College London) Joanna Weinberg (OCHJS)

“Not from the Talmud…, only from the Zohar”: Surenhusius on the authentic theology of the Jews

14.35-14.55 Discussion


Dirk van Miert (Utrecht University)

Surenhusius & Co Uploaded:Surenhusius inEarly Modern Letters Online

15.05-15.35 Tea

15:35-16.45 Roundtable with Theodor Dunkelgrün (University of Cambridge), Dmitri Levitin (All Souls Oxford), David Ruderman (University of Pennsylvania)