The work of Moses Mendelssohn (1729-1786), one of Judaism's great philosophers and defenders, has nonetheless defied easy categorization or definitive depiction. While advocating for the granting of full rights to the Jews of Germany, Mendelssohn also was cast in the role of defender of the faith and advocate for continued obedience to what he termed "ceremonial law" or "divine legislation." In his new book, Moses Mendelssohn's Living Script: Philosophy, Practice, History, Judaism (Indiana University Press, 2016), Elias Sacks, Assistant Professor of Religious Studies and Jewish Studies at the University of Colorado Boulder, delves into Mendelssohn's Hebrew and German works to develop a comprehensive perspective on Jewish practice, Jewish citizenship, and Jewish history. Professor Sacks pays careful attention to Mendelssohn's historical context and the influence on his work of late Enlightenment philosophy, Christian theology, and emerging scientific models of thought.
David Gottlieb is a PhD Candidate in the History of Judaism at the University of Chicago Divinity School. His research focuses on interpretations of the Binding of Isaac and the formation of Jewish cultural memory. He can be reached at email@example.com.