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Jews and Christians in Twelfth-Century Europe

Jews and Christians in Twelfth-Century Europe

Edited by Michael A. Signer and John Van Engen

The scope of this collection of original essays covers the years 1050 to 1215, but it really begins in the summer of 1096, when marauding crusadersattacked Jewish communities in three Rhineland cities. These violent episodes disrupted what had been a fairly peaceful history of co-existence between Jews and Christians for more than two centuries. Although the two groups inhabited findamentally different religious universes, Jews and Christians lived in the same towns, on the same streets, and pursued their lives with minimal mutual interference and often with considerable cooperation. The events of 1096 destroyed that status quo. Relations between the two communities deteriorated, and the Jewish Cumminities suffered as a result.

The contributors to this volume examine again 1096 and its aftermath. Their careful analyses of people, events, and texts provide a balanced perspective on the fate of 12th-century Jewish communities. They reveal that there is considerable evidence that old routines and interactions between Christians and Jews persisted throughout this period. From the perspective of the editors and contributors, this sense of complementarity, of interaction or action and reaction, needs to better inform the medieval story. The essays in this volume therefore intentionally highlight areas of common or parallel activity: in vernacular literature, in biblical exegesis, in piety and mysticism, in the social context of coversion, in relations with prelates and monarchs, in coping in a time of change, renewal, and upheaval. Most importantly, the editors and contributors insist on integrating both Jewish and Christian perspectives into the larger history of a very complex and increasingly urban 12th-century Europe.

ISBN: 978-0-268-03253-1
400 pages
Publication Year: 2001

Michael A. Signer (1946–2009) was the Abrams Professor of Jewish Thought and Culture in the Department of Theology at the University of Notre Dame.

John Van Engen is Andrew V. Tackes Professor of History at the University of Notre Dame, editor of The Past and Future of Medieval Studies (Notre Dame Press, 1994), and author of Devotio Moderna: Basic Writings.

“Essays on interactions between the two groups in northwestern Europe, with a focus on the changes that occurred after a series of pogroms by Crusaders in the Rhineland cities of Mainz, Speyer, and Worms in 1096.” — The Chronicle of Higher Education

“All of these papers make a contribution to the editors’ effort to redirect medieval historiography. [T]he most impressive contribution is Alfred Haverkamp’s extraordinarily detailed study exploring perceptions of baptized Jews among both Christians and Jews. [T]hese papers present a variegated portrait of Jewish-Christian relations, yet all agree on the decisive influence of twelfth-century developments for the remainder of the Middle Ages.” — Journal of the History of Philosophy

“[T]hese essays infuse the process of historiography with an excitement and relevance that can become lost in the details of arcane antiquities. By demonstrating what is vital and best in the research being done in medieval studies these essays remind us of how history informs us and how we form history.” — Comitatus

“. . . a fascinating and highly significant book for anyone with a serious interest in the study of the relations between Jews and Christians.” — Theological Book Review

“. . . the editors, whose own contributions to the volume are among the best, are to be congratulated on producing a volume that integrates the history of medieval Jews into the history of twelfth-century north-western Europe.” — Journal of Ecclesiastical History

“The fifteen contributors . . . include some of the most eminent scholars practicing in the fields of Jewish history and thought, general medieval history, romance literature, Hebrew literature, medieval art, and comparative literature. All of the essays are solid and impressive pieces of scholarship, many are highly persuasive, and some are truly exciting and thought provoking. [T]his is undoubtedly an impressive and important collection, which should be read by anyone interested in medieval religion and society, both for what it has to tell us about Jewish-Christian relations and for what it prompts us to continue to ask.” — Speculum

“. . . a particularly interesting and useful set of . . . essays . . . it is not often that one wishes a 360-page book were longer. As it is, this collection leaves its readers with a springboard for further reading and thinking; a very good addition to the shelves.” — Journal of Theological Studies

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Jews and Christians in Twelfth-Century Europe


Edited by Michael A. Signer and John Van Engen

 Jews and Christians in Twelfth-Century Europe
Cloth Edition
Paper Edition

The scope of this collection of original essays covers the years 1050 to 1215, but it really begins in the summer of 1096, when marauding crusadersattacked Jewish communities in three Rhineland cities. These violent episodes disrupted what had been a fairly peaceful history of co-existence between Jews and Christians for more than two centuries. Although the two groups inhabited findamentally different religious universes, Jews and Christians lived in the same towns, on the same streets, and pursued their lives with minimal mutual interference and often with considerable cooperation. The events of 1096 destroyed that status quo. Relations between the two communities deteriorated, and the Jewish Cumminities suffered as a result.

The contributors to this volume examine again 1096 and its aftermath. Their careful analyses of people, events, and texts provide a balanced perspective on the fate of 12th-century Jewish communities. They reveal that there is considerable evidence that old routines and interactions between Christians and Jews persisted throughout this period. From the perspective of the editors and contributors, this sense of complementarity, of interaction or action and reaction, needs to better inform the medieval story. The essays in this volume therefore intentionally highlight areas of common or parallel activity: in vernacular literature, in biblical exegesis, in piety and mysticism, in the social context of coversion, in relations with prelates and monarchs, in coping in a time of change, renewal, and upheaval. Most importantly, the editors and contributors insist on integrating both Jewish and Christian perspectives into the larger history of a very complex and increasingly urban 12th-century Europe.

ISBN: 978-0-268-03253-1

400 pages

“Essays on interactions between the two groups in northwestern Europe, with a focus on the changes that occurred after a series of pogroms by Crusaders in the Rhineland cities of Mainz, Speyer, and Worms in 1096.” — The Chronicle of Higher Education

“All of these papers make a contribution to the editors’ effort to redirect medieval historiography. [T]he most impressive contribution is Alfred Haverkamp’s extraordinarily detailed study exploring perceptions of baptized Jews among both Christians and Jews. [T]hese papers present a variegated portrait of Jewish-Christian relations, yet all agree on the decisive influence of twelfth-century developments for the remainder of the Middle Ages.” — Journal of the History of Philosophy

“[T]hese essays infuse the process of historiography with an excitement and relevance that can become lost in the details of arcane antiquities. By demonstrating what is vital and best in the research being done in medieval studies these essays remind us of how history informs us and how we form history.” — Comitatus

“. . . a fascinating and highly significant book for anyone with a serious interest in the study of the relations between Jews and Christians.” — Theological Book Review

“. . . the editors, whose own contributions to the volume are among the best, are to be congratulated on producing a volume that integrates the history of medieval Jews into the history of twelfth-century north-western Europe.” — Journal of Ecclesiastical History

“The fifteen contributors . . . include some of the most eminent scholars practicing in the fields of Jewish history and thought, general medieval history, romance literature, Hebrew literature, medieval art, and comparative literature. All of the essays are solid and impressive pieces of scholarship, many are highly persuasive, and some are truly exciting and thought provoking. [T]his is undoubtedly an impressive and important collection, which should be read by anyone interested in medieval religion and society, both for what it has to tell us about Jewish-Christian relations and for what it prompts us to continue to ask.” — Speculum

“. . . a particularly interesting and useful set of . . . essays . . . it is not often that one wishes a 360-page book were longer. As it is, this collection leaves its readers with a springboard for further reading and thinking; a very good addition to the shelves.” — Journal of Theological Studies

Notre Dame Conferences in Medieval Studies