Historical Who is Who

ZUNZ, Leopold

1794 - 1886

Leopold Zunz was the leading exponent of a movement to present Judaism in scientific terms which would enable it to connect with the contemporary world more generally than its predominant outward forms seemed to allow. As a historian he engaged with all aspects of Jewish tradition – biblical text, interpretative commentaries, liturgical expression, individual biography, poetry – and demonstrated their relevance for human culture at large. Against those who preferred linguistic confinement he showed that readiness to use the vernacular language had always been a Jewish practice. And as for moral relativism: “Particular virtues are a matter of fashion, but virtue is not”.


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