An engaging critical review is offered of scholarly works on Spanish mystical literature during the twentieth and early twenty-first century in Europe and the Americas. Bringing together for the first time an ample variety of sources, and letting the scholars’ own voices be heard, this study asks how their writings were influenced by their particular notions about mysticism and Spain’s relationship with the Orient. A thematic survey like this one illustrates how ideas are created and re-created throughout time, resulting in the production of a more diverse scholarship. Readers will be enriched with a renewed sense of disciplinary awareness.
The present essay deals with Jewish art in late antiquity. The works discussed are from the Second Temple period up through the end of the sixth century CE. This survey relates to the way antique Jewish art visualized the Jewish idea that the essence of God is beyond the world of forms. We read in the Bible that the Israelites were commanded to build the desert Tabernacle as well as the First and Second Temples as sanctuaries without cult statues. Later, after the destruction of the Second Temple in the year 70 CE, the Jews had to create a new kind of divine worship using literary and visual aids to fill the void. In terms of time and place, the survey of the ‘state of the art’ of ancient Jewish art as reviewed in the pages that follow traces the visualizations of the Tabernacle/Temple implements, including the seven-branch menorah, the Torah ark, the shofar, and the four species as well as many other motifs associated with the Hebrew Bible and the Jewish calendar. All these motifs evolved into various iconographic symbols visualized in works of art found in a range of media, including coins, funerary art, and synagogue decorations in both Israel and the Diaspora. This essay highlights important discoveries as the third-century CE synagogue in Dura-Europos with its amazing frescoes, the mosaic floors and other adornments in many of the synagogues in the Galilee, the Golan Heights, and the south of Israel, and architectural and carved motifs that decorated burial places, which reflect a wish to immortalize the dead by alluding to the memory of the Temple and the eschatological hope of a Third Temple.
This is the first of a two-part article that aims at discussing the creation of medical madrasas for Muslims in 7th/13th-century Damascus. This part briefly examines the relationship between medical practitioners and rulers, especially in the Ayyubid period, and studies a number of works written by religious scholars and physicians —often addressed to their patrons—, in which they tackled problems affecting the practice of medicine and its scientific status. I particularly focus on the polemics against pietistic groups who adhered to the doctrine of tawakkul (reliance on God), the emergence of the genre of “prophetic medicine”, and the denunciation of those physicians who impugned the universality of medical principles. This article will provide a wide contextualisation for the discussion of the phenomena that lead to the creation of medical madrasas, which will be analysed in detail in the second part.