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The Cambridge Intellectual History Of Byzantium


The Cambridge Intellectual History Of Byzantium

This volume brings into being the field of Byzantine intellectual history. Shifting focus from the cultural, social, and economic study of Byzantium to the life and evolution of ideas in their context, it provides an authoritative history of intellectual endeavors from Late Antiquity to the fifteenth century. At its heart lie the transmission, transformation, and shifts of Hellenic, Christian, and Byzantine ideas and concepts as exemplified in diverse aspects of intellectual life, from philosophy, theology, and rhetoric to astrology, astronomy, and politics. Case studies introduce the major players in Byzantine intellectual life, and particular emphasis is placed on the reception of ancient thought and its significance for secular as well as religious modes of thinking and acting. New insights are offered regarding controversial, understudied, or promising topics of research, such as philosophy and medical thought in Byzantium, and intellectual exchanges with the Arab world.

Byzantium and the Arabs; bilinguals in the Middle Ages; Byzantine and Islamic science; the ancient tradition between Byzantium and Islam; Byzantine intellectual history; survival and transformation of Byzantine culture after 1453.

The story begins in England, where the intrepid sisters Agnes (Smith) Lewis and Margaret (Smith) Gibson show fascinating fragments of ancient Jewish manuscripts to the Cambridge scholar Solomon Schechter. (These are the same sisters that Annie discussed in her review of the book Sisters of Sinai.) After seeing the fragments, which the sisters had brought back from the ninth-century Ben Ezra Synagogue in Old Cairo, Schechter journeys to Egypt himself, where he finds a cache of documents in a dark chamber in the synagogue. The scope of the find was unparalleled in the history of Jewish scholarship and archaeology up to that point. Hundreds of pages of business correspondence and contracts, sacred tomes, liturgical and secular poetry, and illuminated manuscripts littered the floor in heaping piles. Schechter spent an entire month going through the repository's contents before bringing scores of fragments back to Cambridge. These fragments, as well as others gathered by competing scholars and collectors that Hoffman and Cole discuss, changed the course of Jewish intellectual history. 59ce067264


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