Athens WITH Jerusalem
: the Need for a Jewish Voice in Modern Liberal Arts Education

  • Tony Biondi

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


This thesis explores the need for a Jewish voice in modern liberal arts education, from which it has been historically excluded. Liberal arts have developed from a tradition reaching back to ancient Greece, and yet are supposedly representative of Western Judeo-Christian culture. Due to an anti-Jewish attitude amongst the Church Fathers that has prevailed for most of church history, both Jews and their texts have been excluded from contributing to Western education. Great Jewish literature is almost entirely absent from the Great Books tradition, while Jewish thinkers have been left out of the university until only relatively recently. This study proposes to introduce the Jewish voice alongside the Western tradition, not in opposition, but as a peer, creating a dialogue between the two voices. Liberal arts begin with the literary arts, which can be defined as the written, spoken and thinking arts. Whilst there is no discrete liberal arts tradition in the Jewish world, the ancient biblical and post-biblical rabbinic texts address these arts in their own distinctive way. This thesis examines the written Jewish voice through the Great Jewish texts and an authentic way of reading them through the rabbinic method of midrash, as opposed to the Western grammatical tradition. Consideration of the spoken Jewish voice looks at rhetoric in the biblical tradition, and especially among the Hebrew Prophets, who not only spoke well – like their Western counterparts – but spoke up for the voiceless. Finally, an examination of the thinking Jewish voice reveals Wisdom personified, as distinct from Greek philosophy. It is a wisdom which is inseparable from right action, justice, love and awe. The Jewish voice provides counterbalance to the dominant Western tradition, and opens the door to a dialogue in the fields of reading, speaking and thinking, which, in turn, opens the way for other traditions to join the conversation.
Date of Award4 May 2015
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Winchester
SupervisorNigel Tubbs (Supervisor) & Marie Morgan (Supervisor)


  • Hebrew scriptures
  • midrash
  • prophets
  • wisdom
  • grammar
  • rhetoric
  • philosophy
  • Jewish voice

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