Encyclopedia of Renaissance Philosophy

Living Edition
| Editors: Marco Sgarbi

Pomis, David ben Isaac de

Born: 1524
Died: ca. 1594
  • Michela TorbidoniEmail author
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-02848-4_159-1

Abstract

David ben Isaac de Pomis was an Italian linguist, physician, and philosopher. His life and work are considered a paradigmatic attempt at strengthening the relationship between Jews and Christians. He did so by comparing the two traditions, showing their similarities, and emphasizing the common destiny of Jewish and Christian peoples. The study and practice of the medical profession provided him with an intense and fruitful intercultural field but also confronted him with the strong religious prejudices and political obstacles posed by Christian society and legislation. Thus the training of Jewish students at the medical faculties of the universities in Central and Northern Italy played a significant role in defining the status of Jewish physicians and fostering interaction between Christian and Jewish scholars (Shulvass 1973). Furthermore, the discovery during the Renaissance of numerous ancient medical texts was of great benefit to Jewish medical scholars, since they often had privileged access to them through Arab intermediaries. Especially in Venice, Jews were often highly appreciated for their expertise and skills in the medical profession, and several of them were exempted from the traditional ghetto curfew and from wearing the yellow biretta, the headgear usually required of Jews. Venice was the town where David de Pomis arrived in 1569, after being compelled to migrate for a long time from one town to another by strict anti-Jewish legislation imposed by the Church. He remained there for the rest of his life. The tolerant atmosphere of the city, extolled by de Pomis in all of his writings, allowed him to practice medicine and at the same time to compose his various works. He produced medical treatises, translations, and commentaries of biblical texts, but his most important works are the Ṣemaḥ David, a trilingual dictionary of Hebrew, Latin, and Italian, and De Medico Hebraeo, an apology of the Jewish medical profession. As a highly estimated physician and scholar, de Pomis must be considered a relevant figure in facilitating both the exposure of the Christian learned society to Jewish medical studies and the intellectual exchange between Jews and Christians (Guetta 2014). He was recognized by many scholars for his commitment to defending the social position of Jews, criticizing common Christian prejudices and promoting Jewish-Christian dialogue.

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References

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© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Maimonides Centre for Advanced Studies Jewish Scepticism (MCAS-JS)Universität HamburgHamburgGermany

Section editors and affiliations

  • Vasileios Syros
    • 1
  1. 1.Finnish Center of Political Thought & Conceptual ChangeJYVÄSKYLÄN YLIOPISTOFinland