Friday, October 21, 2016


Christians, Muslims, Jews in the Middle Ages: Connection & Conflict
Adam Shear
JS 1644/HIST 1768/RELGST 1644
TTh 9:30-10:45  Gen-Ed: Historical Change

Was the world of Europe and the Middle East before the Enlightenment a period of unending religious conflict and intolerance?  Were Jews the victims of severe persecution and violence everywhere during this period?  Did Christians and Muslims engage in unceasing religious wars? The answer to all three of these questions is no. While the Middle Ages were a period of conflict and competition between the three major western religious groups, they were also a time of coexistence and cooperation. This class shifts from extreme dichotomies and simplistic stereotypes to deeply examine the period in all of its complexity: what were the theological, political, and legal contexts in which Christians, Muslims, and Jews interacted in both Christian Europe and the Muslim world?  How did these deeply religious societies organize themselves to tolerate the religious “Other”?  When and why did toleration break down and lead to expulsion, forced conversion, or violence?  What kinds of cross-cultural exchanges and cooperation take place in economic, cultural, intellectual, and social life?  We will also look at new ideas of toleration (and intolerance) that emerged at the end of the Middle Ages and examine aspects of inter-religious encounters and dialogues today.  We will discuss not only the significance of Jewish-Christian-Muslim interactions in the Middle Ages but also assess these encounters as a case study in the broader history of religious diversity, pluralism, and conflict.

(Escorial, Madrid: image from Book of Chess, Dice, and Tables 1283)

(BnF, Gallica: image from Bible Moralisee, 1250)

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