Under Crescent and Cross: The Jews in the Middle Ages

Mark R. Cohen, Author
Mark R. Cohen, Author Princeton University Press $47.5 (280p) ISBN 978-0-691-03378-5
Paperback - 304 pages - 978-0-691-01082-3
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Jews in the medieval Muslim world faced much less violence and persecution than the Jews of European Christendom, concludes Cohen in this dense, highly rewarding comparative study. Under Islam, he writes, Jews, though considered infidels and subjected to humiliations and recurrent violence, nevertheless occupied a recognized, safeguarded niche within the social hierarchy, enabling them to achieve high status in commerce, medicine, the arts and government service. By contrast, Jews of the Christian world were marginalized and excluded from the prevailing society in the Middle Ages; theological hatred and deeply ingrained anti-Jewish feelings led to massacres, restrictions on Jews' movements and expulsions from towns and countries. Cohen, a Princeton professor of Near Eastern Studies, includes excerpts from period documents, letters, sermons, tracts and histories to buttress his edifying comparative analysis of Jews' legal position, economic activity, response to persecution and interreligious polemics under Islam and Christianity. (June)
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