IMC 2018: Sessions

Session 1507: Medieval Provençal and Sephardi Texts between Secular Culture and Religion, I

Thursday 5 July 2018, 09.00-10.30

Moderator/Chair:Oded Zinger, Martin Buber Society of Fellows in the Humanities, Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Paper 1507-aProvencal Science in Mamluk Palestine: The Case of Ashtori Ha-Parchi
(Language: English)
Amichay Schwartz, Department of Israel Heritage, Ariel University, Israel
Index terms: Geography and Settlement Studies, Hebrew and Jewish Studies, Science
Paper 1507-bFrom Judaism to Islam and Back: A 14th-Century Autobiography of a Relapsed Convert
(Language: English)
Moshe Yagur, Center for the Study of Conversion & Inter-Religious Encounters, University of Haifa
Index terms: Hebrew and Jewish Studies, Islamic and Arabic Studies, Religious Life, Social History
Paper 1507-cStating Constancy in a Time of Changes: Encyclopaedism between the 13th and 14th Century - Alfonso the Wise and Ibn Khaldoun
(Language: English)
Emilio González Ferrín, Departamento de Estudios Árabes e Islámicos, Universidad de Sevilla
Index terms: Education, Islamic and Arabic Studies, Language and Literature - Comparative, Language and Literature - Semitic

Paper -a:
Ashtori Ha-Parchi (Montpellier 1280 – Beth Shean after 1322) was expelled with the Jews of Provence in 1306. In Mamluk-ruled Palestine, he wrote the innovative Kaftor Va-Ferach, the first medieval monograph dedicated to the codification of the Jewish laws that apply in the Land of Israel and to scientific categorisation of the land’s topography, flora, and fauna. Uniquely among medieval recorders of travel literature, Ashtori uses the unit of the ‘hour’ to measure journeys. No research has been conducted as to how this hour is to be contextualised. I will propose that this special unit is an astronomical one, related to the scientific education that Ashtori Ha-Parchi received from his teacher and relative, Jacob ben Machir ibn Tibbon (Prophatius Judaeus); and it is measured by the astronomical tool ‘Quadrans novus’, invented by Jacob. Using this latest innovative tool from Provence is one more way in which Ashtori proves himself as a pioneer researcher.

Paper -b:
Moses ben Samuel, a Jewish clerk of a Muslim high official in the Mamluk administration in the latter half of the 14th century, left us a few versions of an autobiography, written in rhymed Hebrew, which is focused around the events that led to his allegedly forced conversion to Islam, and forced pilgrimage to Makkah which followed. However, a close reading of the way in which Moses reconstructs his past and refashions his religious identity, and the inevitable inconsistencies exposed thereof, reveal a complicated social reality in which personal and religious identities are constantly contested and reshaped, and boundaries redefined.

Paper -c:
Intellectual history of Al-Andalus and the Mediterranean lived a revolutionary change with the rise of Encyclopaedism. In a way, the desire to collect the whole acquired knowledge not only marked a certain time – the change from the 13th to the 14th century – but also solidified and provided cultural content to religious identities expressed in three different languages: Arabic, Castilian, and Hebrew. From Jimenez de Rada and his chronicle, Alfonso the Wise and his cultural project, to the Arabic reflection provided by Ibn Khaldoun, Western Mediterranean reached the intellectual peak of Middle Ages, inducing simultaneous labourious compilations in Hebrew – Abraham Bar Hiyya, Ben Ezra, or Shem-Tov Ben Falaquera.