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MEDIEVAL-RELIGION  December 2000

MEDIEVAL-RELIGION December 2000

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Subject:

Re: jews and xns ca. 1000

From:

Richard Landes <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Wed, 20 Dec 2000 14:29:44 -0500

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

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At 11:26 AM 12/20/00 -0700, you wrote:
>e.g., some of the illuminations in the Corbie Psalter (early 9th c.) strike me
>as thoroughly "romanesque" --or, if you prefer to be *really* picqie--
>"proto-romanesque" in feeling, look and intent; while the specific figure
>style is also just as clearly near the orgins of the beginnings of the
>stylistic "sequence" (George Kubler's useful term)
>which "leads to" "Gothic."
>(http://www.hp.uab.edu/image_archive/cr-03/miniature08.jpg --mis-identified as
>from the "stuttgart psalter" and perhaps not the "corbie psalter," but close
>enough for our purposes.)

agreed.  it's a sign that something indigenous, original, and engaged is
happening.  topoi and recieved styles are undergoing significant and
creative alteration.  do art historians have a term for these phases of art.

>and, in a sense, one could view the "romanesque" church of Tournus (11th c.:
>http://www.pitt.edu/~medart/image/france/france-t-to-z/tournus/m0669tor.jpg )
>as "proto-gothic" in its extraordinary striving for verticality, lacking only
>the structural innovations of the early 12th c. to make it completely "gothic"
>in form.

precisely what i mean.  it's the elan for height and space and light that
characterizes both romanesque and gothic.

>"gothic" was a becoming, with roots which go *way* back.

agreed, if you want to use gothic as your term.  malcolm at chartres likes
"capetian", as a way to emphasize its cradle.  i'd want a different term to
encompass both stylistic stages.  any suggestions?

>that being said, in point of fact there certainly was *some*thing quite
>remarkable happening in certain architectural circles round about the
>turn of the millennium.
>
>and, as you imply (and Dayton Phillips, my old history mentor used to say),
>"Around about 1000 Europe really begins to hum."

nice.  can i use it?

>generally.  across the board.
>
>so, in a way, it would be extraordinary if there were *not* something going on
>among the Jewish communities of Northern Europe.

true.  but it cd just be closing up to avoid being sucked in.

>and yet, they were (as i miserably understand the situation) *in* Christian
>Europe, but not *of* it.

yes and no.  we have a letter of 1008 from one german bishop to another
saying, if you want your city to thrive, get a colony of jews there.  we
have xn intellectuals (monks and clerics) who consult with rabbis on the
text of the OT (HB).  we shdn't read the record backwards thru the lense of
the worst periods of socio-religious hostility.  in my book, those
generally follow on the heals of a widespread period of good relations, and
they mark its breakdown.

>from which we may conclude (at least on this list, not being "regular"
>historians) that whatever it (or they) was that brought about this quite
>astonishing "resurgance" (or just "surgance") of cultural expression, it was
>quite a pervasive tide which lifted all those boats.

agreed.  lots of humming across the boards.

>not a "mere coincidence" at all, surely.
>
>my own way of thinking about these matters is pretty much a mish-mash of
>poorly remembered/understood ideas gleaned from such ancient synthetic works
>as Friedrich Heer's _Medieval World_

he's got a great chapter on jews and women.

>and (for general methodology, esp., but not exclusively, Art Hystery) George
>Kubler's _The Shape of Time: Reflections on the History of Things_ (these from
>1961 and 1962, respectively, i see --on the cutting edge of scholarship when i
>read them in '67) and my own applications of them to try and understand
>various situations i've come across.
>
>Heer's idea of a general, across the board "closing down" of at least the
>options available to Northern Europe in the course of the 13th c. has fairly
>well stood the paradigmatic tests which i've inflicted upon it
>over the course of 30+ years;  curiously and unfortunately, i have no memory
>of his ideas about the "opening up" of things in the period you
>are interested in.  be worth a look-see.

he starts it, typically, in the 12th cn, and pays little to no attention to
the 11th.  the one serious weakness of the book.  but in terms of looking
at europe go thru a period of expansion from 11th to later 12th, and then
shutting down in the course of the 13th to 14th, i think it's the best
paradigmatic approach to the high middle ages.  as i teach it, the economic
revolution of european modernity occurs in two waves -- the
agricultural/commercial of the 11-14th cns, and the industrial of the
17-19th cns (and instead of a black plague/inquisitorial cultural
breakdown, we have the current communications revolutions).

> >my point cd be stated simply in the notion that in 950 a northern european
>jew who wanted his son to become a rabbi wd send him either east (byzantium,
>palestine, babylon) or south (north africa). by 1050, he'd send him to study
>with the students of gershom in a variety of northern european (lotharingian)
>cities. so in under a cn, northern european jewry goes from being a marginal
>frontier settlement to being a cultural center.
>
>that seems like a pretty good indication of the state of things --allowing, of
>course, for the paucity and accidentality (is *that* a word?)

contingency

>of surviving
>evidence one way or the other.

that's one of my mantras, but in this case, i don't see a reason to
question the primacy of this period, place, and set of actors indicated by
the texts.


Richard Landes
Center for Millennial Studies at Boston University      Department of History
704 Commonwealth Ave. Suite 205                 226 Bay State Road
Boston MA 02215                                 Boston MA 02215
617-358-0226 of         358-0225 fax                    617-353-2558
of     353-2556 fax
http://www.mille.org                                    [log in to unmask]

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