By David Nirenberg
Via such a lot of Western ecu historical past, Jews were a numerically tiny or fullyyt absent minority, yet throughout that background Europeans have still fearful very much approximately Judaism. Why should still that be so? This brief yet powerfully argued publication means that Christian anxieties approximately their very own transcendent beliefs made Judaism a big software for Christianity, as an apocalyptic religion—characterized via prizing soul over flesh, the religious over the literal, the heavenly over the actual world—came to phrases with the inescapable significance of physique, language, and fabric issues during this global.
Nirenberg indicates how turning the Jew right into a personification of worldly over religious matters, floor over internal that means, allowed cultures vulnerable towards transcendence to appreciate even their such a lot materialistic practices as non secular. targeting artwork, poetry, and politics—three actions particularly condemned as worldly in early Christian culture—he finds how, over the last thousand years, those actions however elevated the potential of their very own lifestyles inside Christian tradition simply because they have been used to symbolize Judaism. Nirenberg attracts on an astonishingly diversified choice of poets, painters, preachers, philosophers, and politicians to reconstruct the jobs performed by means of representations of Jewish “enemies” within the construction of Western paintings, tradition, and politics, from the traditional international to the current day.
This erudite and tightly argued survey of the ways that Christian cultures have created themselves by way of considering Judaism will entice the broadest diversity of students of faith, paintings, literature, political thought, media idea, and the background of Western civilization extra generally.
Hardcover is un-jacketed.
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Additional resources for Aesthetic Theology and Its Enemies: Judaism in Christian Painting, Poetry, and Politics
Plato often insists that if oriented toward the good, the power of mimesis can be put to positive work. In the Laws, for example, he does prohibit certain forms of mediation and representation (such as money) that he deems irremediably corrupting to the polity. But he does not banish painting. . must be good, if they are to be habitually practiced by the youthful generation of citizens. So they drew up the inventory of all the standard types, and consecrated specimens of them in their temples.
We first encounter the retable in the historical record in 1455, by which time it was already housed at the El Parral monastery in the Castilian city of Segovia. Some art historians have suggested that the retable had been specifically commissioned to commemorate the Segovian synagogue’s violent transformation into a Christian church in 1412, a consecration itself occasioned by charges of Jewish image desecration. 43 We are unlikely ever to know definitively whether or not van Eyck visited Castile, or whether The Fountain of Grace flowed from his own brushes or those of his followers.
Can a political theology love its enemies? Can an aesthetic theology overcome the alienations it itself produces? 14 ch a pt e r on e Painting between Christianity & Judaism A The Lust of the Eyes ccustomed as we are to churches and museums overflowing with Christian images, it is easy to forget that across the centuries many Christians have considered the plastic arts perilous. Their stigma was double, inherited from both Athens and Jerusalem. On the side of Jerusalem we find some wellknown prohibitions: You shall not make yourself a carved image or any likeness of anything in heaven above or on earth beneath or in the waters under the earth.