Moses Mendelssohn has been cast by some scholars as a Jewish traditionalist who uses enlightened German philosophy to bolster his pre-modern religious beliefs, by others as a radical Deist who defends Judaism in order to avoid opposition from his co-religionists, while facilitating their social integration into enlightened European society. Michah Gottlieb offers a new reading of Mendelssohn's life and writings, arguing that he defends pre-modern Jewish religious concepts sincerely, but unconsciously gives them a humanistic valence appropriate to life in a diverse, enlightened society.

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