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First Steps: an Introductory Bibliography in Medieval Jewish History
Compiled by Elka Klein
The purpose of this page is to provide teachers, researchers and students who are familiar with medieval history and are interested in Jewish history with suggestions on where to go first. This is not intended to be a comprehensive bibliography. These works were selected because they are relatively up-to-date treatments of relatively broad areas or themes within the field, and because they do not assume any significant background in Hebrew, Judaism or Jewish history.
Many thanks to the members of the H-Judaic email list who offered their suggestions and input in compiling this list. Many of the suggestions and the annotations represent their input.
Bibliographical essays and orientation:
- The Schocken Guide to Jewish Books (1992)
- Bibliographical Essays in Medieval Jewish Studies (1976)
- Haim Beinart, Atlas of Medieval Jewish History (Simon & Schuster, 1992).
- Yom Tov Assis, The Golden Age of Aragonese Jewry (1997)
- The history of the Jews of the Crown of Aragon in Spain; topics include relations between the Jews and the king; community government; religion; family; crime; social unrest; institutions and leadership.
- Haim Beinart, ed. The Sephardi Legacy (1992)
- Essays by leading scholars on major topics in the history of the Jews of Spain.
- Bernard Lewis, The Jews of Islam (1984)
- Surveys the history of Jews under Muslim rule; several chapters deal with the Middle Ages.
- Kenneth R. Stow, Alienated Minority: The Jews of Medieval Latin Europe (1992).
- A survey of medieval Jewish history in France, Germany and Italy. Includes excellent chapters on Jewish communities, families and intellectual life.
- Judith R. Baskin, "Jewish Women in the Middle Ages," and Renee Levine Melammed, "Sephardi Women in the Medieval and Early Modern Periods," in Jewish Women in Historical Perspective, ed. Judith R. Baskin (1991; revised and expanded edition 1998).
- Survey of issues relating to and documenation about medieval Jewish women. Each chapter has an excellent bibliography for further reading.
- David Berger, "Judaism and General Culture in Medieval and Early Modern Times," in Judaism's Encounter with Other Cultures: Rejection or Integration? ed. Jacob J. Schacter (1997).
- Deals with Jewish participation in and attitudes to elements of general "high culture" such as philosophy, science and poetry.
- Mark R. Cohen, Under Crescent and Cross: The Jews in the Middle Ages (1994)
- Comparison of treatment and status of Jews under Islamic and Christian rule in various categories ranging from the theological to the economic to the sociological; includes detailed discussion of the relevant historiographical traditions.
Primary SourcesA far from comprehensive sample!
- Elkan Nathan Adler, ed. Jewish Travellers in the Middle Ages: Nineteen Firsthand Accounts.
- These include both Ashkenazi and Sephardi travellers and are rich and far-ranging in content.
- Franz Kobler, Letters of Jews through the Ages.
- Excellent collection of letters, reflecting both public affairs and private life; includes a lengthy selection from the Middle Ages.
- Jacob Rader Marcus, ed. The Jew in the Medieval World.
- A classic but still useful collection of primary sources covering many aspects of Jewish history during the period from Constantine to the seventeenth century.
- Norman Stillman, ed. The Jews of Arab Lands
- Includes historical survey from the rise of Islam until the eighteenth century as well as a rich selection of documents, focusing on Jewish political and social status under Islam.
Copyright (C) 1998, Elka Klein. This file may be copied on the condition that the entire contents,including the header and this copyright notice, remain intact.