Tony Biondi

Tony Biondi is a doctoral student at the University of Winchester. His research is in Jewish approaches to the Liberal Arts. Tony received a BA in Religious Studies from the University of Winchester in 1999 and a MRes in Jewish History and Culture from the University of Southampton in 2010. His MRes dissertation focused on the exegetical encounter between rabbinic and patristic interpretations of the Book of Ruth. He completed postgraduate teacher training in Religious Studies in 2004 at the University of Southampton, and taught at the American Academy Schools in Larnaca and Nicosia, Cyprus between 2004 and 2009.

"...every shepherd is an abomination...": Liberal Arts and Jewish Voices

The Great Books encompass a wealth of literature and learning spanning millennia and forming the foundation of many Liberal Arts curricula across the United States and Europe. However, the scarcity of texts from the Jewish tradition reveals an under-representation that suggests, at the very least, the tradition has been overlooked. At worst, this is the innate fruit of the long history of anti-Semitism and anti-Judaism rife in Western culture from ancient times to modernity. Either way, the Great Books and Liberal Arts students are impoverished by the absence of Jewish voices.
Since Tertullian asked 'What has Athens to do with Jerusalem', the two philosophical world-views have been pitted against each other with the Greek tradition very much in dominance. Synthesis may not be possible. However, the almost mutual exclusivity with which the Greek version is favoured maintains the blind spots which another parallel viewpoint would reveal. Thus, it is not necessary to choose between one or the other, but one with the other... Athens with Jerusalem.
This paper considers the history of anti-Semitism and anti-Judaism which has led to the exclusion of Jewish texts from the Great Books, and looks to some ways in which the problem is being redressed by Jewish schools and colleges. Hopefully, the wider provision of Liberal Arts education will embrace these neglected sources to the benefit of all.