Jews in Early Christian LawThe interests of this book actually extend back to the fourth century.
Byzantium and the Latin West, 6th-11th centuries
J. V. Tolan, N. de Lange, L. Foschia, C. Nemo-Pekelman (eds.)
379 p., 156 x 234 mm, 2014
Languages: English, French
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The sixth to eleventh centuries are a crucial formative period for Jewish communities in Byzantium and Latin Europe: this is also a period for which sources are scarce and about which historians have often had to speculate on the basis of scant evidence. The legal sources studied in this volume provide a relative wealth of textual material concerning Jews, and for certain areas and periods are the principal sources. While this makes them particularly valuable, it also makes their interpretation difficult, given the lack of corroborative sources.
The scholars whose work has been brought together in this volume shed light on this key period of the history of Jews and of Jewish-Christian relations, focusing on key sources of the period: Byzantine imperial law, the canons of church councils, papal bulls, royal legislation from the Visigoths or Carolingians, inscriptions, and narrative sources in Hebrew, Greek and Latin. The picture that emerges from these studies is variegated. Some scholars, following Bernhard Blumenkranz, have depicted this period as one of relative tolerance towards Jews and Judaism; others have stressed the intolerance shown at key intervals by ecclesiastical authors, church councils and monarchs.
Yet perhaps more than revealing general tendencies towards "tolerance" or "intolerance", these studies bring to light the ways in which law in medieval societies serves a variety of purposes: from providing a theologically-based rationale for social tolerance, to attempting to regulate and restrict inter-religious contact, to using anti-Jewish rhetoric to assert the authority or legitimacy of one party of the Christian elite over and against another. This volume makes an important contribution not only to the history of medieval Jewish-Christian relations, but also to research on the uses and functions of law in medieval societies.
Friday, December 12, 2014
Tolan et al., Jews in Early Christian Law
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