Christian Identity amid Islam in Medieval Spain


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Christian Identity amid Islam in Medieval Spain

This, perhaps, is a rather broad period to study, but doing so gives us the ability to see the continuity between these eras, unified by a common effort to respond to Islam, even though the responses and contexts themselves are unique. For these reasons, we will analyze Christian anti-Muslim polemic from Spain in the mid-ninth century and from the eleventh-twelfth centuries. The earliest extant treatises in this regard come from mid-ninth century Spain and are examined in Part I Chapters 1—3 of our study. Also lost is an anti-Muslim treatise from the early-ninth century written by a Cordovan abbot named Speraindeo a small portion of this work is preserved by Eulo- gius in Memoriale sanctorum, 1.

We cite from the Latin edition of these texts edited by Ioannes Gil in his Corpus scriptorum muzarabicorum. Yet evidence coming directly from these communi- ties in ninth century Cordova, at least in the form of religious polemic that our study focuses on, does not exist. Eulogius and Alvarus do reveal some characteristics of these opposing communities. While we analyze this evidence, the information Eulogius and Alvarus offer is simply too meager to warrant a proper reconstruction of the Christian communities with whom they disagreed.

The first of these is the Liber denudationis siue ostensionis, aut patefacientem The Book of Denuding or Exposing, or The Discloser; henceforth, Liber denu- dationis , likely written originally in Arabic by an unknown Christian in the late-eleventh century or early-twelfth century. Madrid: Instituto Anto- nio Nebrija, Irven M. The Fathers of the Church: Medieval Continuation, vol. To do so, however, takes us far beyond the scope of our project and would make it considerably longer.

The Middle Ages Series, ed. A partial English translation by Burman is found in Constable, ed.

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Burman, Religious Polemic, These texts are known to modern scholars and have been studied by them before. Adding great renown to their works, however, is the perplexing question of what drove nearly fifty Christians to pursue martyrdom in ninth century Cordova. As it concerns ninth century Cordova, we are not concerned with tak- ing another look at its movement of martyrs. Instead, by re-reading the texts written about them, we hope to learn something new about how two authors sought to control a context of inter-religious encounter. Simi- larly, we are less concerned in each of our texts with what our authors knew about Islam than we are with how they used this knowledge to communicate something about the nature of their own faith.

Christian Identity amid Islam in Medieval Spain

It is this perspective—reflected self-image as we call it here—that brings fresh focus to a collection of texts that have been examined before. By doing so, not only can we offer new information about inter-religious relations in medieval Spain, but we might also shed new light on Christian-Muslim interactions and the ways religious communities police their borders. Here we discover a whole range of Christian communities differing in their response to Islam. Maribel Fierro. Yet their statements come as smaller conclusions within larger arguments.

Islam, Judaism, and Christianity - A Conversation

In our study, we use reflected self-image as a starting point, focusing almost entirely on the concept as a means for reading polemi- cal texts. This rift brings special attention to two types of Christians in the city: those who were attracted to Islamic and Arabic culture among whom were many Christians absorbing this culture without converting to Islam and those who condemned this attraction, wishing to resist Islamic hegemony.

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It becomes clear that an identity crisis was at hand for many Cordovan Christians. Eulogius and Alvarus responded with their texts, hoping to make some sense of this crisis. We argue, however, that while these texts did func- tion as hagiography and as an apology for a martyrs movement, they also served as a means for re-clearing religious borders between Christians and Muslims, borders that had become for their authors increasingly blurred and indistinguishable. In Part II we turn to an analysis of works written by Christians in Spain who offered a different set of boundaries.

Unlike Eulogius and Alvarus, they did absorb Arabic and Islamic culture, not simply to denigrate Mus- lims with more precision, but as part of a larger effort to define their Christian identity amid Islam. In Chapter 4, we examine the historical background of the eleventh-twelfth century texts written from this per- spective. Here we discover another identity crisis for various Christians.

Christian identity amid Islam in medieval Spain / by Charles L. Tieszen - Details - Trove

Tolan, Saracens, We argue that as a result of these crises, many Christians faced the need to redefine their identity or at least offer a reminder of their religious identity in light of Islam and the social upheaval around them. In Chapter 5 we study the polemic produced in the eleventh-twelfth centuries and argue that they were designed as a response to this iden- tity crisis.

By reconsidering who their intended audiences were, we con- tend that the texts functioned as tools for asserting Christian identity by reminding readers of religious distinctiveness in the face of significant change. With this function in mind, we analyze each text, focusing on features relevant to our discussion of identity. Finally, in our Conclusion we make some comparative observations of these two eras of religious polemic. We then offer some concluding remarks regarding the implications of our study for Christian-Muslim relations. A few key terms used throughout the study warrant some brief com- ments here.


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Of course, this area was referred to at various times by different names, reflecting a specific kingdom or state. This term has been a source of difficulty and confusion in works related to medieval Spain. Salma Khadra Jayyusi. Handbook of Orien- tal Studies Leiden: E. Brill, As just one example, many Christians in Islamic Spain resisted Arabization, so to call them Mozarabs is clearly problematic.

Moreover, Muslims never applied the term to Christians. Its earliest use in reference to medieval Spain is instead found in Christian sources from the eleventh century. Of course, Arabization could at times give way to varying degrees of Islamicization, though not necessarily in any way that meant conversion to Islam e. The passive parti- ciple is closer phonetically, but there is a provocative difference, i. Ross Brann and David I.

The Encyclopaedia of Islam, 2d, ed. Finally, all non-English titles are left untranslated with the exception of sources that form the central focus of our study or those that preserve them, as described above. Bearman, Th. Bianquis, C. Bosworth, E. Heinrichs, ed. Leiden: E. Related Papers. While Tieszen successfully demonstrates that Christians and Muslims knew much about each other, he also includes several surprising characterizations.

Altogether, Cross Veneration in the Medieval Islamic World is a valuable, albeit narrow, contribution to multiple fields. It reminds us, at a critical time in our own history, how important interreligious dialogue and awareness can be. Charles Tieszen is associate professor at Simpson University and adjunct assistant professor at the Fuller Seminary. Please read our policy on commenting. All Rights Reserved.

ISSN X. Skip to main content. If we make the assumption that Chris- tians wrote these texts to Muslims, then we must further deduce that they wished their readers to abandon their identity as Muslims after seeing it dismantled before their eyes. But if this was the case, Christian authors did not merely hope that Muslim readers would leave their faith in order to exist in a sort of agnostic limbo. They must surely have wished that their negative images of Islam would force Muslims to turn away from it and towards a superior religious identity Christianity.

In this way, a definition for Christian identity can lie beneath a negative portrayal of Muslims.

However, we might more carefully deduce, as we will argue in our study, that much anti-Muslim polemic was intended not for the Mus- lims it assailed, but for specific Christian communities. In turn, this might safeguard against conversion and strengthen the religious identity of the Christians reading the texts. In this way, negative images of Islam would crumble and give way to posi- tive images of Christianity.

That this method might be possible is often the result of a feature quite common within religious polemic: the rhetorical foil. Often times a negative image of Islam contrasts with and so emphasizes the positive qualities of Christianity.

Sometimes this is made explicit by authors. For example, when an author writes that Islam spread throughout the earth by the sword, but Christianity spread with neither violence nor coercion15 or when authors momentarily step aside from their polemic so that they might briefly defend a point of Christian doctrine in light of a contrasting Muslim one. At other times, this foil is implied. In fact, this method would be preferable to others.

Christian Identity amid Islam in Medieval Spain Christian Identity amid Islam in Medieval Spain
Christian Identity amid Islam in Medieval Spain Christian Identity amid Islam in Medieval Spain
Christian Identity amid Islam in Medieval Spain Christian Identity amid Islam in Medieval Spain
Christian Identity amid Islam in Medieval Spain Christian Identity amid Islam in Medieval Spain
Christian Identity amid Islam in Medieval Spain Christian Identity amid Islam in Medieval Spain
Christian Identity amid Islam in Medieval Spain Christian Identity amid Islam in Medieval Spain
Christian Identity amid Islam in Medieval Spain Christian Identity amid Islam in Medieval Spain
Christian Identity amid Islam in Medieval Spain Christian Identity amid Islam in Medieval Spain
Christian Identity amid Islam in Medieval Spain Christian Identity amid Islam in Medieval Spain

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