Berger, David

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BERGER, DAVID (1943– ), historian and Orthodox thinker. Berger was educated at Yeshiva College (B.A., 1964) and Columbia University (M.A., 1965; Ph.D., 1970). Primarily a medievalist, he has written about the history of medieval Jewry, Jewish-Christian relations and polemics, messianic ideas and movements, and the intellectual history of the Jews throughout the Middle Ages. In the 1990s he turned his attention to the contemporary Orthodox world, coming to castigate it for its indifference in the face of the "scandal" of the messianic claims surrounding the last Lubavitcher rebbe. He argued that Lubavitch messianism stands outside the acceptable range of messianic claims and must be opposed by the contemporary Orthodox world.

Berger was active in the major institutions of American Jewish academic life, having served as president of the Association for Jewish Studies and as a member of the Executive Committee of the American Academy of Jewish Research and vice chair of the Academic Advisory Committee of the National Foundation for Jewish Culture.

Among his publications are The Rebbe, the Messiah, and the Scandal of Orthodox Indifference (2001); The Jewish-Christian Debate in the High Middle Ages: A Critical Edition of the Nizzahon Vetus with an Introduction, Translation, and Commentary (1979); and, as editor, History and Hate: The Dimensions of Anti-Semitism (1997).

[Jay Harris (2nd ed.)]