Medieval Literature

Jonathan Decter

in Jewish Studies

ISBN: 9780199840731
Published online August 2012 | | DOI:
Medieval Literature


Most of this bibliographic digest is dedicated to the field of medieval Hebrew literature (poetry and literary prose), with some limited attention to Jewish writing in languages other than Hebrew and the representation of Jews in non-Jewish literature toward the end of the piece. With respect to medieval Hebrew literature, following a brief discussion of general and historiographic overviews, materials are organized according to chronology and geographic area. English translations and Hebrew editions/anthologies are included in the respective sections. Regarding secondary works, priority is given to those available in English, while indispensible works in other languages, primarily Hebrew, are also included. In many cases, a brief English article will lead the reader to numerous works in Hebrew by the same author. Like other fields of Jewish studies, the modern study of medieval Hebrew literature—liturgical and nonliturgical—was founded in western Europe during the 19th century. Early scholars were dedicated to the collection, editing, and systematic publication of texts culled from prayer books and manuscripts preserved in European libraries and within Jewish communities. The field of medieval Hebrew literature has encompassed the piyyut (liturgical poetry) of Byzantine Palestine, the liturgical and nonliturgical poetry of the Islamic world (Iraq, Egypt, North Africa, al-Andalus) and medieval Latin Christendom (Christian Iberia, Provence, Northern France and Germany, and Italy). The systematic study of the documents of the Cairo Genizah, beginning toward the end of the 19th century, greatly expanded the corpus of known materials and revolutionized the field. There are few English works that aim to address the whole of medieval Hebrew literature. Spiegel 1970 is a classic essay that offers such an overview; Carmi 1981 is a fine anthology with historical contextualization. Pagis 1979 and Rosen and Yassif 2002 address scholarly trends from philological approaches to more contemporary literary methods.

Article.  10544 words. 

Subjects: Judaism and Jewish Studies

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