Prof. Dr. Giuseppe Veltri
MCAS Director, Professor of Jewish Philosophy and Religion
I studied in Berlin under the Jewish Studies expert and scholar in Comparative Religions Peter Schäfer and the religious historian and theologian Carsten Colpe. Both influenced my development as a scholar very significantly. In Rome my mentor was the Targum researcher Roger Le Déaut.
From 1990 to 1996, I worked on the project “Magic from the Cairo Geniza“ and the project “Greek-Roman Religion in Palestine“ (financed by the German Research Foundation, DFG, and headed by Peter Schäfer). I then did a habilitation in Jewish Studies at the Free University of Berlin (1996). The topic of this habil. thesis, which is still cited today as an important study,  is the connection between magic, law and the history of science. In 1995, at the age of 37, I was short-listed for a professorship at the university in Duisburg, and in 1996 I was first candidate on the shortlist for a chair in Comparative Religion at the University of Leipzig. Shortly thereafter I was offered a professorship at the University of Halle-Wittenberg, where I was appointed Professor for Judaica/Jewish Studies. In 1998, I founded the now well-known Leopold Zunz Center at the Leucorea Foundation (Wittenberg) and have organized a large number of conferences, symposia and readings there. I took on editorship of the newsletter of the European Association for Jewish Studies (EAJS Newsletter), and have since turned that into a respected, peer-reviewed periodical (European Journal of Jewish Studies), which is financed in part by the Rothschild Foundation, published by Brill in Boston and Leiden (www.brill.nl/ejjs), and is recognized by Thomson Reuters indices as an ISI journal. In 2001, I founded a successful scientific-scholarly series with Brill (Studies in Jewish Culture and History), which has published 33 volumes to date (www.brill.nl/sjhc). Both the journal and book series are published by Brill USA in Boston.
I have been guest professor in Antwerp, London, Paris, Rome and Bologna, and in 2010 I was granted an honorary professorship for Comparative Religions at the University of Leipzig. In November 2010, myself and the department I head at the University in Halle-Wittenberg were granted the Emil Fackenheim Prize for Tolerance and Understanding of the Jewish Community Halle. This is a unique prize in Germany, and was for the first time given to an academic institute. 
After the Reunification of Germany, I not only helped to establish the field of Jewish Studies as an academic discipline in Halle, but developed the field into an established entity with its own distinctive profile in Germany (Jewish philosophy, religion and Near East area studies). When I joined the staff in Halle, the field had previously only been represented there by guest professors, and there was only one assistant. Today I have three full-time associates (teacher for Hebrew, two instructors for specialized topics such as Jewish Mysticism and Yiddish, three assistants, 10 research associates connected with projects, and a total of 10 doctoral candidates from Halle and Leipzig. This has developed from substantial activity in teaching (MA and BA degree programs) and a broad range of research.
My list of publications offers a wide vista covering many areas of Judaic Studies, Judaism and the philosophy of religion. Seven monographic studies, fourteen edited collections and editions, more than 120 articles in German, English, Italian, Hebrew and French, in respected journals and collective volumes, are evidence of my activity over many years in the discipline.
 See Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 25 May 2011, No. 121, p. N3, “Passworte”, by Lorenz Jäger)
 See “Judaistik-Seminar erhält Fackenheim-Preis,” URL: tinyurl.com/3b4y2hr
Key aspects of activity
My research activity is characterized by five fields:
- religion of ancient Judaism (DFG project Conception of Language / Sprachauffassung and DFG project Midrash Tehillim)
- medieval philosophy (ANR-DFG project Peshat)
- culture and philosophy of the Renaissance and Early Modern Period (DFG project Moscato, DFG project Simone Luzzatto)
- the Science of Judaism / Wissenschaft des Judentums (DFG-LIS project Leopold Zunz) and finally
- Jewish skepticism (DFG-KoFor or Maimonides Centre of Advanced Studies).
Ad 1: The religion of ancient Judaism is an important focus area of my scholarly research. This began with my doctoral diss. on Jewish-Hellenistic and rabbinical conceptions of translation, and continued in my habilitation thesis on magic, Jewish law and science. Both my doctoral thesis, which was lauded by the leading Israeli scholar Emmanuel Tov as a standard work on the topic, and my habil. thesis, much praised by the expert on the history of magic Hans-Dieter Betz, were path-breaking in their scope and depth, and have been recognized as such. I have deepened my research work both in preparing editions (DFG project Midrash Tehillin) and in work on the relation between the Biblical conception of language and rabbinical and medieval grammatical terminology (DFG project: Sprachauffassung / conception of language).
Ad 2: Medieval philosophy was a research focus for me already in the 1990s when I dealt in depth with the wisdom literature of Musar. Thanks to a close cooperation with scholars in Israel, France and the Netherlands, I was able to obtain financing for the most important pilot project, which is my key work in the area of Jewish philosophy: the data-base edition of the dictionary and thesaurus by Jakob Klatzkin, expanded and made accessible (see www.peshat.org) A 12 years DFG-Long term project (Premodern Philosophic and Scientific Hebrew Terminology in Context) wil be financially supported by the German Research foundation (decision of July 2013).
Ad 3: The third field, Renaissance philosophy and views of religion, is my favorite project. In 2009, I published a monographic study, the translation of the philosophical sermons of Yehudah Moscato (DFG project). I have also organized several conferences and symposia on the intellectual life of the Jews during the Early Modern Period in Italy and elsewhere. My edition of Simone Luzzatto (DFG-Project), is to be published by the publishing house Bompiani in Milan in a series (Pensiero occidentale), edted by the Italian philosopher Giovanni Reale.
Ad 4: The fourth research focus area is associated with the name of Leopold Zunz, the founder of the Wissenschaft des Judentums, who did his doctorate at the University of Halle and whose name is on the institute for research on European Jewry which I founded at the University of Halle-Wittenberg. I organized several conferences on the 19th century and have dedicated several publications to Zunz and his work. With financing from the LIS dept. at the DFG, I we catalogued and digitalized the entire Jerusalem archive of Zunz (more than 30,000 fols. (www.jewish-archives.org ). In the planning stage now are additional documentation projects on the papers of philosophers and historians, in cooperation with the Jewish National Library in Jerusalem.
Ad 5: The fifth research area is Jewish skepticism. The research is based on the assumption that scepticism is an essential aspect of the processes and categorizations within Jewish philosophy, religion, literature, and society in its permanent exchange with adjacent cultures..
Honors and Titles
2014: Ordinary Member of the Academy of the ‘Sciences and Literature of Mainz (Germany)
2013: Extern member of the Accademia Pontaniana (Naples, Italy)
2010: Professor h.c. for Comparative Religions at the University of Leipzig
2010: Emil Fackenheim Prize for Tolerance and Understanding of the Jewish Community Halle