Narratives from the Sephardic Atlantic: Blood and Faith

Narratives from the Sephardic Atlantic: Blood and Faith

Narratives from the Sephardic Atlantic: Blood and Faith

Narratives from the Sephardic Atlantic: Blood and Faith

Synopsis

Identity, family, and community unite three autobiographical texts by New World crypto-Jews, or descendants of Jews who were forced to convert to Christianity in 17th-century Iberia and Spanish America. Ronnie Perelis presents the fascinating stories of three men who were caught within the matrix of inquisitorial persecution, expanding global trade, and the network of crypto-Jewish activity. Each text, reflects the unique experiences of the author and illuminates their shared, deeply rooted attachment to Iberian culture, their Atlantic peregrinations, and their hunger for spiritual enlightenment. Through these writings, Perelis focuses on the social history of transatlantic travel, the economies of trade that linked Europe to the Americas, and the physical and spiritual journeys that injected broader religious and cultural concerns into this complex historical moment.

Excerpt

I he subterranean networks of New World crypto-Judaism rarely thrived in isolation. Rather, these secret Jewish communities were connected through a complex web of familial, economic, and cultural ties to a global network of fellow conversos and openly professing Jews living throughout Europe and the Americas. With commercial links solidified through marriage, business and family were inseparable. Real-world affiliations made of “blood and treasure” were intertwined with a longing for family in metaphorical and spiritual terms. Individual crypto-Jews found paternity and brotherhood with like-minded religious searchers for a family of spirit inseparably connected with their family of flesh and blood. Narratives from the Sephardic Atlantic explores the dialectical relationship between the socioeconomic iteration of family and its more spiritual, metaphorical expression within the context of the early modern Sephardic Atlantic.

Autobiographical texts offer a unique lens through which to consider the relationship between blood and faith. As the authors reflect on their lives, both their biological families and their larger social circles form an essential part of their own development. However, there are other figures—teachers and friends, enemies and strangers—who also help shape the autobiographer’s life. in more spiritually tinged narratives, these individuals often become essential to the dynamic of awakening and enlightenment driving the retelling of the author’s experience.

This book looks at three autobiographical texts written by individuals caught within the matrix of inquisitorial persecution, expanding global trade, and crypto-Jewish activity in the early modern period. Luis de Carvajal the Younger (1567–96), also known as Joseph Lumbroso, moved from Spain to Mexico in 1580, when he was a teenager, and began writing his spiritual autobiography after his first inquisitorial trial in 1589. the Portuguese merchant Antonio de Montezinos (1604–47), recounts his life-changing encounter with the lost tribe of Reuben living in the northern Andes. His account dates to 1644 but was published only in 1650 as part of Menasseh ben Israel’s treatise on the fate of the Lost Tribes, Mikveh Israel/Esperanza de Israel. Manuel Cardoso de Macedo (1585–1652) was an Azorean Old Christian who first embraced Calvinism before leaving Christianity behind and converting to Judaism. He wrote his spiritual autobiography, La Vida del buenax’enturado Abraham Pelengrino Guer, while living as a Jew in Amsterdam at some point after the 1620s.

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.