At the dawn of the modern period The Jewish engagement with the Hebrew Bible after 1750 was integrally connected to, and reflective of, the broad reshaping of Jewish religious and intellectual life in the modern era. As Jews began a process of integration into European society, they became increasingly attuned to modern intellectual currents and came to recognise that the new historical and philosophical thinking had far-reaching implications for their understanding of Judaism, including their scriptural traditions. The Jewish responses to these challenges were – and continue to be – highly complex and varied. Jews did not merely absorb and internalise new European approaches to religion and the study of religious texts; rather, they alternately sifted, adapted and resisted modern approaches to the Bible in the light of their distinct spiritual and religious needs. In this respect, the modern Jewish engagement with Scripture can be subdivided into two roughly equal periods, with the critical–scholarly developments of the 1870s serving as a watershed. Up until this decade, Jews responded to the advances of text and source criticism only tentatively or not at all; from the 1870s onward, with the significant advances of Julius Wellhausen and others, Jewish scholars devoted far more serious and sustained attention to the methods and conclusions of biblical criticism.
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