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IMC 2015: Sessions

Session 135: Cross-Currents in Jewish Thought in the High Middle Ages

Monday 6 July 2015, 11.15-12.45

Moderator/Chair:Christoph Cluse, Arye Maimon-Institut für Geschichte der Juden, Universität Trier
Paper 135-aChanging Evaluations of Renewal: The Authorship of the Bible between Medieval Exegetes and Modern Scholarship
(Language: English)
Eran Viezel, Department of Bible, Archaeology & Near Eastern Studies, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Beer-Sheva
Index terms: Biblical Studies, Hebrew and Jewish Studies
Paper 135-bCollaboration or Dissent?: The Relationship between Rabbi Isaac and Rabbi Peretz of Corbeil
(Language: English)
Judah D. Galinsky, Department of Talmud, Bar-Ilan University, Ramat Gan
Index terms: Hebrew and Jewish Studies, Law, Lay Piety, Religious Life
Paper 135-cLiteral Interpretation within Doctrinal Borders: Religious Agendas and Theological Constraints in the Works of Jewish and Christian Literal Exegetes
(Language: English)
Ari Geiger, Department of History, Bar-Ilan University, Ramat Gan
Index terms: Education, Hebrew and Jewish Studies, Religious Life

Paper -a:
Many scholars take a great interest in the views of medieval commentators regarding the authorship of the Biblical books, including the way in which they were compiled and the writers' identities. While they frequently stress the affinities medieval commentators exhibit with their modern critical counterparts, they also tend to overemphasize the innovative exegesis of the former, thus misrepresenting their opinions. This misconstrual appears to derive primarily from the attempt of Jewish scholars to base Christian critical Biblical scholarship on Jewish sources.

Paper -b:
In France in the year 1277 Rabbi Isaac of Corbeil produced a revolutionary work of Jewish law (halakha) which he titled the Pillars of Exile. The book was divided into seven 'pillars', and it dealt exclusively with commandments relevant to Jews living in the diaspora. The book was written in an accessible fashion and the author wished that it be studied by broad segments of Jewish society, not only the intellectual elite. Soon after its publication the Pillars was taken up by the much better known Talmudic scholar and fellow resident of Corbeil, Rabbi Peretz, who authored an extensive and authoritative gloss. The question I wish to explore is the relationship between the gloss and its author (Peretz) and the book and its author (Isaac). Did the glossator disapprove of the works' 'democratic' tendencies and was therefore attempting to transform the book and its audience via his gloss or was he merely correcting and supplementing the base text as he saw fit – in a sense perfecting the work of the original author?

Paper -c:
In the course of this lecture I will discuss a phenomenon common among medieval literal exegetes, in both biblical religions, in which they deviate from their declared method of literal exegesis owing to religious motives. I will present theological and polemical interpretations that do not meet the standards of literal exegesis, as well as examples of commentators who chose not to breach the limits set by their religious faith or community. To conclude I will suggest some general observations regarding the depths of the cultural transition that occurred during the 12th-century Renaissance.