The aim of this class is to explore the thought of one of the most well-known Jewish exegetes of the nineteenth century—Malbim—with a heavy emphasis on his historical and intellectual context. We will survey the major intellectual movements of modern Europe—the Enlightenment and Romanticism—through the prism of some of the key texts that defined the respective projects, and
then consider their impact on the role of the Bible in European life, and the resulting crises which faced the newly emancipated Jews of Europe. After examining the attempts of Mendelssohn, Meklenburg, and Hirsch, to conserve Jewish tradition, we will turn to Malbim. The theses of his sermons and the themes of his exegesis will be explored alongside some of the biblically inspired literature of the age—including Lord Byron’s Cain. We will conclude the course with an assessment of how Malbim’s claims have fared over the past one hundred and fifty years.