Music, Rhetoric and Christian Hebraism in Early Modern Europe: Reuchlin’s Reconstruction of the Modulata Recitatio

This project seeks to elucidate the nexus of music, rhetoric and Christian Hebraism within the wider intellectual context of early modern Europe, focussing on Johannes Reuchlin.  Existing studies of early modern Christian Hebraism, while centring on the spread of Hebrew and Jewish literature among Christian scholars of the day, have paid little attention to how they studied Hebrew language and the ‘delivery’ (pronuntiatio) of the Hebrew Bible as an aural/oral tradition. This question is absent in the modern historiography of Reuchlin too. Likewise, current scholarship on Renaissance rhetoric is mainly concerned with its Greco-Roman heritage, dismissing the Hebraic aspect of early modern rhetorical tradition. The aim of this project is to fill that gap by reassessing the significance of Reuchlin’s study of Kabbalah and cantillation in relation to the humanist tradition of rhetoric as philosophy and of music as rhetoric, with an emphasis on the ancient notion of modulata recitatio.


Selected Publications: