By David Nirenberg
Via so much of Western ecu heritage, Jews were a numerically tiny or fullyyt absent minority, yet throughout that background Europeans have still fearful very much approximately Judaism. Why should still that be so? This brief yet powerfully argued publication means that Christian anxieties approximately their very own transcendent beliefs made Judaism an incredible device for Christianity, as an apocalyptic religion—characterized by way of prizing soul over flesh, the non secular over the literal, the heavenly over the actual world—came to phrases with the inescapable value of physique, language, and fabric issues during this global.
Nirenberg exhibits how turning the Jew right into a personification of worldly over non secular matters, floor over internal that means, allowed cultures vulnerable towards transcendence to appreciate even their so much materialistic practices as non secular. concentrating on paintings, poetry, and politics—three actions in particular condemned as worldly in early Christian culture—he finds how, over the last thousand years, those actions however extended the opportunity of their very own lifestyles inside of Christian tradition simply because they have been used to symbolize Judaism. Nirenberg attracts on an astonishingly diversified number of poets, painters, preachers, philosophers, and politicians to reconstruct the jobs performed via representations of Jewish “enemies” within the production of Western artwork, tradition, and politics, from the traditional global to the current day.
This erudite and tightly argued survey of the ways that Christian cultures have created themselves by means of considering Judaism will attract the broadest diversity of students of faith, artwork, literature, political idea, media idea, and the heritage of Western civilization extra generally.
Hardcover is un-jacketed.
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Extra resources for Aesthetic Theology and Its Enemies: Judaism in Christian Painting, Poetry, and Politics
12 According to the defenders of images, this error, which misled the Jews into crucifying Christ, now misleads the iconoclasts into destroying his image. In the words of an eighth-century text: “Formerly the impious put to the lips of Jesus a mixture of vinegar and gall; in our day, mixing water and lime and fixing a sponge to a pole, they applied it to the icon. . ” The ninth-century Khludov Psalter converted the words into image, juxtaposing a drawing of two Jews tormenting the crucified Jesus with long-poled sponges of vinegar and gall with an illustration of two iconoclasts using the same instruments to whitewash an image of the savior.
The Jewish figures that emerge from the defense of image making staged by the illuminators of the Cantigas de Santa María were neither reflections of reality nor stable stereotypes, but Christian projections of Judaism produced at the dynamic intersection of media, mental concepts, and social context. Projecting Danger: The Fountain of Grace It would require many pages to make this point about the Cantigas convincing, pages we do not have. 30 A painting hanging today in the Prado Museum of Madrid seems almost explicitly to thematize our topic.
Often enough these manifestations are achieved by first figuring the enemies of a particular claim to transcendence and then miraculously defeating them. 1 (plate 1) Cantigas de Santa María, Cantiga 34, Escorial, MS. 1, folio 39r. Photo courtesy of Edilán-Ars Libris. 2 Detail of Cantiga 34, Cantigas de Santa María, Escorial, MS. 1, folio 39r. Photo courtesy of Edilán-Ars Libris. politics. But in this one we are concerned with visual objects of devotion, whose enemies in the Cantigas are played by Jews, Muslims, and Christian blasphemers of various types.
Aesthetic Theology and Its Enemies: Judaism in Christian Painting, Poetry, and Politics by David Nirenberg