David Levi was born and raised in London. He was self-taught. He worked as a shoemaker, then a hatter. He was a Hebrew scholar and the leading exponent of Jewish thought in England, and defended Judaism against Thomas Paine and Joseph Priestley. Because the Jews in England were not well versed in Hebrew, Levi translated and explained traditional Jewish texts. Because Christian writers were confused by the differing accounts of Judaism, Levi sought to clarify and defend Jewish beliefs and practices. His Succinct Account of the Rites and Ceremonies of the Jews (1782–3) and the subsequent Lingua sacra tried to supply and explain the basic data for English Jews, Christians and ‘open and professed enemies, whether Deists or Atheists’. Levi indicated that ideas of some of the latter group were affecting members of the London Jewish community.
From The Continuum Encyclopedia of British Philosophy in Oxford Reference.