Senior Fellow: October 2015–November2015 and January 2016–February 2016
Research Project: Abraham Gómez Silveyra (1656–1741): An Amsterdam Sephardi Controversist in Search of a Theological Truce among Faiths
A comprehensive study and digital edition of Gómez Silveyra‘s work is at the centre of a new project designed by Carsten Wilke in cooperation with Professor Harm den Boer (University of Basel, Hispanic Studies). It is part of a larger joint research on the literary, intellectual, social and material history of the manuscript corpus inside the communities of the Sephardi diaspora. Comprising more than four thousand still unedited pages, which were written in baroque Spanish between 1700 and 1738, the monumental theological oeuvre of the Jewish stockbroker Abraham Gómez Silveyra is the last highlight in the history of anti-Christian literature among the Early Modern Portuguese Jews. Gómez Silveyra arrives at a disillusioned conclusion concerning the reliability of theological reasoning, and voices such wisdom in an idiosyncratic mix of learned scholarship and satirical buffoonery. He argues that Human understanding is always grossly misleading; truth can only be found in revelation, that is, in a strictly literal reading of the Scriptures in accordance with the Oral Law. Besides rejecting modern science, even Copernican cosmology, on such Biblical grounds, Gómez Silveyra also maintains that no theological system has ever been able to prove its superiority.
Carsten Wilke is associate professor at Central European University in Budapest/Hungary.