Cosmographia is one of the most inventive and enigmatic works of medieval literature. Mark Kauntze argues that this allegory of creation is best understood as a product of the vibrant intellectual culture of twelfth-century France. Bernard Silvestris established the authority of his treatise by imitating those ancient philosophers and poets who were assiduously studied in the contemporary schools. But he also revised and updated them, to develop a compelling intervention into twelfth-century debates about man's place in nature and the relationship between theology and natural science. Using a wealth of manuscript evidence, Kauntze reconstructs the school context in which Bernard worked, and shows how the
Cosmographia itself became an object of scholarly annotation and imitation in the later Middle Ages.
Reading the Rabbis Eva De Visscher examines the Hebrew scholarship of Englishman Herbert of Bosham (c.1120-c.1194). Chiefly known as the loyal secretary and hagiographer of Archbishop Thomas Becket and enemy of Henry II, he appears here as an outstanding Hebraist whose linguistic proficiency and engagement with Rabbinic sources, including contemporary teachers, were unique for a northern-European Christian of his time.
Two commentaries on the Psalms by Herbert form the focus of scrutiny. In demonstrating influence from Jewish and Christian texts such as Rashi, Hebrew-French glossaries, Hebrew-Latin Psalters, and Victorine scholarship, De Visscher situates Herbert within the context of an increased interest in the revision of Jerome's Latin Bible and literal exegesis, and a heightened Christian awareness of Jewish 'other-ness'.