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Does the design of the Tabernacle in the wilderness correspond to God’s blueprint of Creation? The Christian Topography, a sixth-century Byzantine Christian work, presents such a cosmology. Its theory is based on the “pattern” revealed to Moses on Mount Sinai when he was told to build the Tabernacle and its implements “after their pattern, which is being shown thee on the Mount.” (Exod. 25: 40). The book demonstrates, through texts and images, the motifs that link the Tabernacle and Creation. It traces the long chain of transmission that connects the Jewish and Christian traditions from Syria and ancient Israel to France and Spain from the first through the fourteenth century, revealing new models of interaction between Judaism and Christianity.


The appearance of the enigmatic woman-headed serpent in both Christian and Jewish art of the thirteenth century can be understood as a reflection of the historical developments of that period. The widespread influence of the Cathar/Albigensian dualistic heresy in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries brought about a strong Church reaction, and the Inquisition that eliminated the heresy. The Jews were caught in the middle of this inquisitorial campaign and, in order to defend themselves, had to disassociate themselves from the dualistic ideas expressed by the Kabbalah and at the same time also prove their allegiance to the Old Testament. Their use of particular Christian models in biblical and non-biblical illuminated manuscripts at that point in time may well be a graphic indication of the Jews' precarious position in medieval Christian society.

In: Iconoclasm and Iconoclash
In: Religious Stories in Transformation: Conflict, Revision and Reception
In: Jewish Religious Architecture