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Daniel Fairbrother


This paper argues for a new version of holism about historiography. The argument starts with an analogy with Aristotle’s conceptions of soul and character. The aim is to overcome the central problem critics have identified in Ankersmit’s holism about historical representations: it is not clear how a posited holistic entity can make a difference to a work of history. The solution offered in this paper is that there are two – modally distinct – dimensions of content in works of history. One comprises its explicit content as given in its statements. This corresponds to actuality, action, and narrative in Aristotle. The other is where we find a holistic entity: a work of history’s representation of a historical situation. This is analysed here as a unified range of possibilities for action generated by the interrelated complex of factors introduced by the work’s explicit contents. This corresponds to potentiality, soul, and character in Aristotle. The theory is further developed in relation to two examples, one idealized, the other an example of real historiography. By distinguishing between actuality and possibility as dimensions of a historical representation, the holistic entity is enabled to be implicit while having real importance in relation to the content of historiography.

Steven G. Smith


A historically responsible agent is willing to be somehow in practical solidarity with all other actors with whom action is shared over time. The responsible idea of a most-inclusive history encompasses future occurrence together with all that has happened already. Despite our lack of control over future developments, we assess possible future ages as bright (if action opportunities are generally greater) or dark (if lesser) and position ourselves as contributors to multigenerational endeavors (such as Burke’s “all science” and “all art”) that we hope will be long-term successes in themselves and part of a larger historical optimality. Informed by the evolutionary sciences, a plausible modern envisioning of the future must include evolutionary innovations and surprises on a very long time scale. The historically responsible agent will therefore take seriously efforts like Olaf Stapledon’s Last and First Men to imagine the new powers and goals of our distantly posthuman future sharers in history.

Katarzyna K. Starczewska


The aim of this article is to present a set of glosses to the Qurʾān written by the sixteenth-century Spanish convert Juan Gabriel and to analyze them in the context of apologetic argumentation. The glosses come from a translation commissioned by Egidio da Viterbo (1518). I present here the index of topics covered by the glosses and argue for their conciliatory character. I also select glosses that focus on the identity of Abraham and compare them with annotations that appear in other Latin translations of the Qurʾān. The conclusion of this study is that, although there was a tradition in Latin Europe of glossing the Qurʾān in particular places, for example in passages where biblical figures are mentioned, Juan Gabriel used this tradition to present Islam as compatible with Christianity rather than a heresy.

Ana Echevarría


This article presents the Responsio in quaestione de muliere sarracena transeunte ad statum et ritum iudaicum (1451) by Alonso Fernández de Madrigal, “El Tostado” (1410–55), as a rich source for the study of conversion across minority groups. A trial conducted before the archbishop of Toledo concerning a Muslim woman turned Jew by her lover in Talavera de la Reina (Spain) caused a scandal in Christian society. As one of the most outstanding legal scholars at the University of Salamanca, Madrigal established the right of the archbishop of Toledo to judge an issue involving the two minorities and decided in favor of the woman returning to her faith of origin, instead of imposing the death penalty. While conversion superseded issues of illicit sexual relations, gender acted as a mitigating circumstance. This article will also consider how the three communities contributed to the survival of “cohabitation,” defined by Madrigal as social peace, and the preservation of the status of the different religions living together in Castile.

Gad Freudenthal


This paper argues that as a result of the competition over patients between Jewish and Christian doctors in the Midi (twelfth–fourteenth centuries) Jewish doctors were more prone than other Jewish intellectuals to acquaint themselves with Christian culture (and also to convert). In this respect, the massive Latin-into-Hebrew cultural transfer in medicine contrasts with the slight Latin-into-Hebrew cultural transfer in philosophy (until the end of the fourteenth century). Jewish doctors were able to keep up with Latin medicine, even at times of rapid change, often through Latin-into-Hebrew translations.

To illustrate and sustain the general claims I look closely at a few figures: the anonymous Jewish doctor who called himself “Doeg the Edomite” and who, in the closing years of the twelfth century, translated into Hebrew twenty-four books of theoretical and practical medicine, mainly from the Salerno corpus; and Leon Joseph of Carcassonne, whose remarkable preface to his translation of Gerard de Solo’s Pratica super nono Almansoris (1394). I analyze in detail as an eyewitness report of a participant observer. His trajectory is comparable to that of Moses ben Samuel of Roquemaure (Jean, or Juan, of Avignon).

Rosa M. Rodríguez Porto


This article offers a preliminary survey of the miniatures illustrating the Biblia romanceada held at the Escorial Library under the shelf number I.I.3, whose precise date and provenance have been a matter of dispute among scholars for decades. The scrutiny of the stylistic features of these illustrations together with a reassessment of the scarce archival sources related to this work allows for a definite association of Escorial, MS I.I.3 with Enrique de Guzmán, 2nd Duke of Medina Sidonia (d. 1492). However, the contextualized analysis of this lavishly decorated manuscript—which was part of a trend in aristocratic patronage and the epitome of already established traditions in Bible illustration—may contribute not only to a re-appraisal of this singular work but also to a better understanding of the multifaceted phenomena lying behind the production and reception of the remaining fifteenth-century illustrated Bibles in the vernacular, all of them translated from Hebrew but intended for a Christian audience.

From Christian Polemic to a Jewish-Converso Dialogue

Jewish Skepticism and Rabbinic-Christian Traditions in the Scrutinium Scripturarum

Yosi Yisraeli


This article presents a new reading of the polemical strategies and arguments embodied in the “anti-Jewish” tractate by the converted bishop of Burgos, Pablo de Santa María (c.1352–1435), the Scrutinium scripturarum (c.1432). It suggests the Scrutinium reflected a unique polemical dynamic that emerged between converts and Jews following the mass conversions of 1391 and the early fifteenth century, regarding the spiritual assimilation of converts to their new faith. Grappling with the new challenges faced by converts, the Scrutinium articulated a Christian approach toward rabbinic traditions and Jewish skepticism that differed dramatically from the scholastic–polemical traditions that were employed at the disputation of Tortosa. Its introduction of rabbinic esotericism provided its Latin-reading audience new historical and theological grounds for the integration of rabbinic authority within Christian scholarship and history. In doing so, it embodied what could be considered a distinct “converso voice,” which challenged the customary religious boundaries between Judaism and Christianity.

Volume-editor Mercedes García-Arenal, Gerard Wiegers and Ryan Szpiech

John Tolan


On March 4th, 1233, in his bull Sufficere debuerat perfidie Iudeorum, Pope Gregory IX complains to the bishops and archbishops of Germany of the many “perfidies” of the German Jews, including their “blasphemies” against the Christian religion, which, he fears, may have an ill effect on Christians, particularly converts from Judaism. He orders the bishops to prohibit Jews from presuming to dispute with Christians and to prevent Christians from participating in such disputations through ecclesiastical censure.

Gregory clearly thought that it was dangerous to allow informal discussions or debates about religion between Jews and Christian laymen. At the same time, he was instrumental in the promotion of the two new mendicant orders and in the encouragement of their missionary efforts towards Jews (and to a lesser extent Muslims). Over the course of the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, the Dominicans in particular became specialists of religious disputation. Laymen were increasingly discouraged or prohibited from engaging in such disputation by both ecclesiastical and royal legislation.

This article will examine several key texts involving the dangers of interreligious debate and discussion in the Middle Ages from the perspective of Christian authorities (ecclesiastical, royal or other). Various authors, from Tertullian to Joinville, expressed misgiving about the effects such debate could have on Christian participants and bystanders, and various medieval legal texts, civil and canon, sought to limit or prohibit such debate.