The Age of Secrecy
Jews, Christians, and the Economy of Secrets, 1400-1800
Yale University Press 2015
New Books in Christian StudiesNew Books in European StudiesNew Books in HistoryNew Books in Jewish StudiesNew Books in Peoples & PlacesNew Books in Politics & SocietyNew Books in Religion & FaithNew Books Network July 12, 2016 Shira Kohn
In his expansive The Age of Secrecy: Jews, Christians, and the Economy of Secrets, 1400-1800 (Yale University Press, 2015), Daniel Jutte suggests new ways of understanding the scientific revolution of the early modern period through exploring the ways in which Christians and Jews engaged in the exchange of secret knowledge. As opposed to contemporary understandings of secrets as information needing to be exposed to the public or being withheld for potentially dangerous reasons, Jutte argues that early modern Christians and Jews often thought of arcane knowledge as positive and truthful. By looking at what he terms the economy of secrets, particularly Jewish participation in the keeping and transmittance of knowledge in areas as diverse as alchemy, cryptography, and espionage, Jutte argues for broader understanding of Jewish agency, economic opportunity, and sites of intellectual and cultural exchange during this era.