Friday, November 27, 2009

Award for book 'The Kuzari and the Shaping of Jewish Identity, 1167-1900 '

Adam Shear, assistant professor of religious studies at the University of Pittsburgh, is the winner of the Morris D. Forkosch Prize for the best book in intellectual history published in 2008. The prize is awarded by the Journal of the History of Ideas.

Shearer's book, The Kuzari and the Shaping of Jewish Identity, 1167-1900 (Cambridge University Press, 2008), follows the influence of the Kuzari and the way it has been read and understood over the years.

As research for his book, Shear surveyed the activities of readers, commentators, copyists, and printers that have taken place over 700 years to trace the ways the “Kuzari” became a classic of Jewish thought. He found that views of the work before the 19th century differed greatly from those of the 20th century. In modern Jewish thought, the “Kuzari” has often been contrasted with Moses Maimonides' Guide of the Perplexed.

The Forkosch Prize committee said Shear's “highly original book is able to combine scholarly depth and historical breadth without sacrificing accessibility to the non-specialist reader-a rare achievement.” The prize includes an award of $2,000.

Shear joined the Pitt religious studies faculty in 2001. His areas of expertise include medieval and early modern Jewish cultural and intellectual history, the impact of print on Jewish culture and thought in the early-modern period, and the cultural role of Jewish philosophy in the formation of early-modern Jewish identities.