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The massive medieval empires of Byzantium and Arabia generated great literature that lasts to our present day. Despite the frequent animosity between East and West, these two cultures were brought into contact by perhaps the least expected of mediators: Jewish merchants whose business spanned from Gibraltar to India. Belonging fully to neither the Christian or the Muslim world, but conversant in the cultures and languages of both, these travelers helped expand the literary horizons of the later Middle Ages, and set the stage for a literary flowering that would commence in the early modern period.
Rabbi Limmer will examine this cross-cultural exchange of ideas and expanding of horizons through a study of medieval Midrash, a little-examined Jewish genre that blossomed during this time period. Specifically, he will show how stories of King Solomon made their way from East to West and back again through these fascinating literary collections.
Rabbi Seth M. Limmer is the Senior Rabbi of Chicago Sinai Congregation, and the co-author of Medieval Midrash: The House for Inspired Innovation, published in 2017 by Brill.
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This program is part of Religious Change, 1450 - 1700, a multidisciplinary project exploring how religion and print made the medieval world modern. The project is generously supported by a grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.