The Jew, the Cathedral and the Medieval City: Synagoga and Ecclesia in the Thirteenth Century

The Jew, the Cathedral and the Medieval City: Synagoga and Ecclesia in the Thirteenth Century

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Nina Rowe
Cambridge University Press, 4/4/2011
EAN 9780521197441, ISBN10: 0521197449

Hardcover, 346 pages, 25.3 x 21.5 x 2.5 cm
Language: English

In the thirteenth century, sculptures of Synagoga and Ecclesia - paired female personifications of the Synagogue defeated and the Church triumphant - became a favoured motif on cathedral façades in France and Germany. Throughout the preceding centuries, 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 prehistory of the Church. In this book, 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. Ultimately, she demonstrates that royal and ecclesiastical policies to restrain the religious, social, and economic lives of Jews in the early thirteenth century found a material analog in lovely renderings of a downtrodden Synagoga, placed in the public arena of the city square.

the Jew, the cathedral and the city
Part I. Imagining Jews and Judaism in Life and Art
1. The Jew in a Christian world
denunciation and restraint in the age of cathedrals
2. Ecclesia and Synagoga
the life of a motif
Part II. Art and Life on the Ecclesiastical Stage - Three Case Studies
Introduction to Part II
nature, antiquity and sculpture in the early thirteenth century
3. Reims
'our Jews' and the royal sphere
4. Bamberg
the empire, the Jews and earthly order
5. Strasbourg
clerics, burghers and Jews in the medieval city
the afterlife of an image.

'Rowe's approach to her work is impressively versatile, drawing historical, textual, and material evidence into synthesis with formal and stylistic observations to walk the line attentively between the worm's-eye and the bird's-eye view of her subject. The breadth and soundness of the resulting book will interest a wide range of scholars in fields from art history and Jewish studies to theology, anthropology and beyond. The Jew, the Cathedral and the Medieval City … represents a masterful scholarly accomplishment and a signal contribution to medieval studies.' The Medieval Review

'Rowe's study represents a valuable contribution to the corpus of scholarship on Jewish-Christian interaction, medieval urban history and Gothic art. Scholars and students alike will want to familiarize themselves with Rowe's arguments and imitate her interpretative methodologies.' German History