22.11.11

Otherness


Ecclesiastical allegories of Christianity and Judaism

Although in the early Middle Ages ‘otherness’ had largely been defined in terms of language, custom, law, or religion, by the fourteenth century other features emerge as the basis of group identity, creating a seemingly insurmountable obstacles to assimilation and acculturation. These new constructions of ‘otherness’ may help explain the deteriorating status of Jewish and Muslim communities in Europe, which led to the eventual expulsion from most lands in Christendom of those who refused baptism. Even baptism, however, could not wash away this newly established sense of difference: in Spain after 1492 Moriscos and Conversos (i.e. recent Muslim and Jewish converts to Christianity) remained under suspicion and were subject to discrimination under a series of statutes relating to purity of blood, perhaps anticipating modern racial conceptions. While ‘otherness’ can be examined across a number of disciplines (such as history, philosophy, theology, canon law, literature, and art history), the experience of Jews remains paradigmatic (UTC).

Rowe: "Keeping Jews in their Place"
Nina Rowe, The Jew, the Cathedral and the Medieval City: Synagoga and Ecclesia in the Thirteenth Century, Cambridge, 2010. In the thirteenth century, sculptures of Synagoga and Ecclesia – paired female personifications of the Synagogue defeated and the Church triumphant – became a favored motif on cathedral façades in France and Germany. Throughout the centuries leading up to this era, the Jews of northern Europe prospered financially and intellectually, a trend that ran counter to the long-standing Christian conception of Jews as relics of the pre-history of the Church. In The Jew, the Cathedral and the Medieval City, Nina Rowe examines the sculptures as defining elements in the urban Jewish-Christian encounter. She locates the roots of the Synagoga-Ecclesia motif in antiquity and explores the theme’s public manifestations at the cathedrals of Reims, Bamberg, and Strasbourg, considering each example in relation to local politics and culture. Rowe sees the Synagoga-Ecclesia theme as a response to the Jewish-Christian interactions at the time, whereas previous studies have only addressed Christian conceptions of Jews or Judaism with no discussion of the ways the Jewish intellectual, economic, and social life might have impelled the Christian embrace of the theme.

Perhaps. Yet, Replacement Theology was definitely not vanilla:

Initial "Q," Homily of Bede of Verdun, 13th century

Resources
Théologie de la substitution
Teología de la Suplantación
Individuo y otredad

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