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

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Overview

In the thirteenth century, sculptures of Synagoga and Ecclesia - paired female personifications of the Synagogue defeated and the Church triumphant - became a favored motif on cathedral façades in France and Germany. Throughout the centuries leading up to this era, 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 pre-history of the Church. In The Jew, the Cathedral and the Medieval City, 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.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"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." -Pamela A. Patton, 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." -John D. Young, German History

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780521197441
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 4/4/2011
  • Pages: 346
  • Product dimensions: 7.20 (w) x 10.10 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Nina Rowe is an assistant professor of art history at Fordham University. The recipient of numerous fellowships and grants, she coauthored (with Sandra Hindman, Michael Camille and Rowan Watson) Manuscript Illumination in the Modern Age: Recovery and Reconstruction and coedited (with David Areford) Excavating the Medieval Image: Manuscripts, Artists, Audiences - Essays in Honor of Sandra Hindman. She has published articles in the journals Gesta and Studies in Iconography, as well as in various edited volumes.
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Table of Contents

Introduction: 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; Epilogue: the afterlife of an image.
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