She is also charming Yagel back to life. "David Ruderman portrays him as very, very sad, and lonely, and poor and depressed and not a very good writer and a failure," Oravetz says, laughing hard as she hams up the pathos. "I feel like he's my little underdog buddy."

She is delighted that the Oregonian, in a recent article on Reed's thesis parade, quoted her on Yagel.

"He'd been practically unknown in his lifetime, and now, 400 years later, he's in the Oregonian," says Oravetz, chuckling at the irony.

Oravetz believes that, in many respects, Yagel was ahead of his time because many of his ideas led directly into much of what scholars consider to be distinctly modern. In this respect, she believes it is important to understand the true intentions of Yagel and other transitional figures like him. Early on in her reading, she was struck by a passage in which Yagel described the appearance of the Mother of All Languages. The Mother of All Languages said that, just as all languages grew out of Hebrew, the sole original language, they would reconverge into Hebrew at the end of time, when heaven and earth are reunited and everything is perfect.

Oravetz read this passage, which she calls "New on Earth," a phrase in the text, to mean that Yagel was concerned with the end of the world. Yet Ruderman had never suggested that Yagel's writing was apocalyptical; he interpreted "new on earth" as a simple statement by Yagel that the idea was original to himself.

Oravetz began to read the rest of the text with the end of time in mind and discovered Yagel's interest in the apocalypse again and again.

Later, she also discovered a similarity between the structure of A Valley of Vision and the biblical book of Daniel. She remembers making this connection when she was sitting at the Lutz Tavern, up the hill from Reed, where she would meet with her friend, another religion thesis student.

"More than once, I had an epiphany at the Lutz," Oravetz says, enjoying the hilarity of the juxtaposition.

Her mother, Meg Oravetz, remembers worrying several years ago that Anne might become too driven and overly concerned with grades. "Anne said, 'I don't do it for the grades. It's just that I absolutely hate not understanding something. I just work until I understand it.'" Meg says. "At that point I thought, 'oh, she's a real intellectual!'"

And Anne Oravetz credits her "respect for erudition," as she wrote in her thesis acknowledgments, to her mom, who is an administrator and art history instructor at the Philadelphia College of Textiles and Sciences.

Next Page
Next Page