Academic journal article Shofar

The Jews in Legal Sources of the Early Middle Ages, by Amnon Linder

Academic journal article Shofar

The Jews in Legal Sources of the Early Middle Ages, by Amnon Linder

Article excerpt

The Jews in Legal Sources of the Early Middle Ages, by Amnon Linder

This finely-crafted and extremely valuable book is a worthy follow-up to Linder's earlier book The Jews in Roman Imperial Legislation (Detroit, 1987). In this book Linder presents a broad array of Jewry law from the fifth to the twelfth centuries. For Linder Jewry law is a corpus of legal texts and practices that regulated the life of Jews in their relations with medieval Christian society. Throughout this work Linder is solely interested in the written texts (i.e., ideological legal considerations) generated by both ecclesiastical and secular texts, as opposed to the more practical customary law, which was not typically directed specifically at the Jews. Linder argues that the definition of law was rather fluid in the early Middle Ages; he has, therefore, chosen texts based upon early medieval definitions of legal sources. Linder presents a very comprehensive selection of sources, many of which repeat earlier legislation or insert and integrate older legislation within different historical and legal contexts. He has extracted clauses that deal specifically with Jews but has also, where appropriate, been careful to keep the clauses within their original contexts when they are part of a logical or ordered structure. Several documents, for example, deal with Christian heretics or pagans, but form part of a larger discussion into which Jews must be placed.

The book is divided into five sections: Byzantine Texts; Western Secular Texts; Papal Decretals; Conciliar Canons; and Canonical Collections. Linder has collected 142 separate written legal sources, which he has divided into 1,016 selections. Each of the separate legal sources is prefaced by an introduction tracing the history and transmission of the source; additionally, each text selection is offered in the original language (Greek, Latin, and several sources in Arabic) as well as an English translation. Linder also provides exact references, original incipits, rubrics, and translations of inscriptions. Frequently bibliographical materials are also given. The introductions are generally extensive and informative, though in some places a broader and perhaps non-legal context would aid the reader. The work includes useful indexes of Greek and Latin incipits, persons, places and subjects. A glossary of terms is not included but would have made the work even more accessible for non-specialists looking to utilize some of the sources in other contexts. …

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