Jewish Contributions to Civilization: An Estimate

By Joseph Jacobs | Go to book overview

CHAPTER IV
MEDIÆVAL JEWS AS INTELLECTUAL INTERMEDIARIES

WE have seen that, owing to the peculiar status, religious and legal, of Jews in the Holy Roman empire and in Islam, they held a privileged position in both spheres. In consequence of this they formed suitable intermediaries between Christian and Muslim lands where they were both permitted to travel and could find kinsmen or coreligionists wherever they did so. As a consequence we soon find them monopolizing international trade between East and West under the name of Radanites, as described by Ibn Khordadhbeh at the beginning of the ninth century.1 They carried goods not only but also ideas from East to West, for in the ninth and tenth centuries the Orient was practically the sole factory of thought. The early Caliphs, as soon as they had consolidated their conquests,

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1
See chapter vi.

-138-

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