Posted: Monday, July 2, 2012
Reams of scholarship have been written on the contents of the Cairo Geniza, but in Sacred Trash: The Lost and Found World of the Cairo Geniza, authors Adina Hoffman and Peter Cole explore how the 1896 discovery itself changed the world of Jewish scholarship.
Posted: Friday, June 29, 2012
The historical period explored in Byzantium and Islam was deeply transformative for Judaism. In this post, I'll give a brief summary of Judaism during this transitional time, focusing on some important trends showcased in the exhibition.
Posted: Thursday, June 21, 2012
Born in Mecca and raised in Medina, the two most holy sites of Islam, the fifth caliph, Abd Al Malik Ibn Marwan, spearheaded the creation of many of the institutions that centralized the Islamic empire around his capital in Damascus and asserted its independence from Byzantine traditions.
Posted: Thursday, June 14, 2012
In the late nineteenth century, French soldiers stationed at the town of Hammam Lif—the ancient city of Naro in southern Tunisia—accidentally rediscovered an ancient structure. The building's layout and floor mosaics were so in line with regional conventions that it was at first thought to have been a church. However, the Latin inscription in the center of the mosaic floor, which identifies the building as "Sancta Sinagoga" and is flanked by menorahs on either side, revealed the site to be a synagogue.
Posted: Wednesday, April 25, 2012
In Art & Judaism in the Greco-Roman World: Toward a New Jewish Archaeology, Steven Fine tackles the question of what ancient Jewish art meant to the people who experienced and made it.
Throughout the last century, many questioned the existence of a Jewish art. To most German art historians, Jews were not a nation and hence could not possess an art of their own, and Protestant scholars considered ancient Judaism the forerunner of their own non-iconic religious beliefs. Archaeological finds in the late nineteenth century, however, demonstrated the existence of a rich Jewish artistic tradition in ancient times.
Posted: Wednesday, April 11, 2012
Today we perceive Judaism and Christianity as totally separate religions, but in Border Lines: The Partition of Judeo-Christianity, author Daniel Boyarin describes the process in which "borders" were created to divide what was once a unified "Judeo-Christianity," and the rich cultural interactions that took place between Jews and Christians even as the divisions between them were erected.
Posted: Monday, April 2, 2012
Several of the Jewish manuscripts on view in Byzantium and Islam: Age of Transition are thought to have come from the Cairo Genizah, a repository of communal, religious, and business documents housed in the attic of the tenth-century Ben Ezra Synagogue in Cairo that was re-discovered in 1896 by Cambridge scholar Solomon Schechter.