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Israel Salvator Révah

RÉVAH, ISRAEL SALVATOR (1917–1973), French hispanist. Révah was born in Berlin to a family originating from Salonika. Educated in Paris, he began his research career on 16th-century studies under the guidance of Lucien Febvre and Marcel Bataillon. Wartime persecution put a temporary halt to his academic career. He worked as a school teacher and in 1946 took a post as a Spanish teacher in Bordeaux and Saint-Maur. From 1946 he worked at the French Institute in Lisbon, where he elaborated his method of blending literary and archival research, first as research fellow and from 1948 as professor, editing its bulletin and publishing Portuguese texts related to Judaism as well as several works by Gil Vicente. In 1955 he was called back to Paris as a directeur d'études at the École des Hautes Études, and in 1966 he was appointed professor at the Collège de France, holding the chair of Language and Literatures of the Iberian Peninsula and Latin America. During the last decade of his life, he lectured almost exclusively on Sephardi subjects, leaving most of his studies unpublished at his untimely demise. As a linguist, Révah elucidated the origins of Judeo-Spanish (see *Ladino), his mother tongue, from the scientific viewpoint of medieval peninsular dialectology. As a historian, he explored the vicissitudes of Jewish consciousness among the Spanish and Portuguese Marranos by way of large-scale family monographs, coining the definition "potential Jews" for this profoundly inconsistent group. Révah is best known for his discovery of historical links between the Iberian crypto-Jewish environment and the antireligious revolt of Uriel da *Costa and *Spinoza; he published several studies on the intellectual history of the Marranos, on Spinoza, and on Uriel da Costa. In his evaluations of the role of Jews and New Christians and the Inquisition in Iberian culture, he defended the centrality of religious factors against the sociological approaches of Americo Castro and António José Saraiva on this subject.

Among his works are: Spinoza et le dr Juan de Prado (1959), Des Marranes à Spinoza (1995), Antonio Enríquez Gómez, un écrivain marrane (2003), and Uriel da Costa et les Marranes de Porto (2004).


H. Méchoulan and G. Nahon (eds.), Mémorial I.S. Révah (2001).

Sources: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.