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A Pious Belligerence

In A Pious Belligerence Uri Zvi Shachar examines one of the most contested and ideologically loaded issues in medieval history, the clash between Christians, Muslims, and Jews that we call the Crusades. Ideas about holy warfare, he contends, were not shaped along sectarian lines, but were dynamically coproduced among the three religions.

A Pious Belligerence
Dialogical Warfare and the Rhetoric of Righteousness in the Crusading Near East

Uri Zvi Shachar

Sep 2021 | 320 pages | Cloth $65.00
History / Religion
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Table of Contents

Chapter 1. Holy Wars and Unholy Alliances: Historical Overview
Chapter 2. Warriors and Border Anxieties: Jacques de Vitry and His Legacy
Chapter 3. Warrior Mothers: The Coproduction of Pious Chivalry in Romance Literature
Chapter 4. A Jewish "Crusade" to the Near East: The Immigration Movement
Chapter 5. Translation and Migration in Messianic Figurations of Holy War
Chapter 6. Pollution and Purity in Crusading Rhetoric

Excerpt [uncorrected, not for citation]


In the spring of 1211, a large group of French-speaking Jews reached the port of Acre with the intention of settling in the Land of Israel. A fifteenth-century chronicle states that this group numbered more than three hundred rabbis, and their families presumably, but even if this figure is somewhat exaggerated, a movement of this size is massive in medieval terms. Nor was it the first—a few years earlier, a smaller contingent from the south of France led by Jonathan ha-Cohen of Lunel took to the sea and reached the Holy Land via Egypt. Both groups, and subsequent ones, included eminent scholars who had made a name for themselves in the intellectual elite of the French-speaking rabbinical world. Sources tell us that the rabbis and their families first settled in Jerusalem, which a few decades earlier had been taken by Saladin. Between the First Crusade and 1187, the Holy City was closed to non-Christians, but under Ayyubid rule, the immigrants were welcome inside. Yet, plagued with inter- and intrareligious strife, as Judah al-Harizi famously observed, the city was not a particularly pleasant place during the first years of the thirteenth century. What is more, in 1219, the Ayyubid ruler al-Mu'azzam dismantled its walls in anticipation of the Fifth Crusade, making it less hospitable still. The Frenchmen subsequently moved to Acre, the acting capital of the Kingdom of Jerusalem, where their descendants and followers stayed until 1291. In the port city of Acre, they found a more cosmopolitan environment, home to groups and individuals professing every creed and speaking every language known around the Mediterranean.

What led to the formation of this unusually large and prominent group is a question that has long puzzled historians. Surely a combination of factors, political and theological, must have played a role in their decision to leave their homes and head east. But what is clear beyond doubt is that these rabbis never embarked on this journey in order to conquer the Holy Land; they were no crusaders. It is doubtful whether any of them were trained in the art of swordsmanship, much less in mounting a destrier. And yet, some of those who participated in this fateful crossing of the Mediterranean chose to depict it as the first phase of an eschatological war against the heathen. One author even declared that the true purpose of the journey was to liberate the Holy Land from the impurity that it suffered due to the presence of Christians and Muslims upon it. When the vanguard finishes to cleanse the land from the "Ishmaelites" and the "uncircumcised," he continues, then the messiah will be revealed in their midst and will champion several more cycles of war in which the Jews will finally emerge triumphant. While this portrayal is thoroughly fantastic—in the sense that none of the participants actually sought to instigate war against the inhabitants of the Kingdom of Jerusalem and its surroundings—and must have been appreciated as such by its contemporary readers, it had a tremendous impact on subsequent generations of Jewish authors living in Acre. Over the course of the thirteenth century, they penned multiple messianic treatises that, using a highly elusive language, staged the local Jewish community and the messiah in an imagined armed conflict against the enemies of their faith. Readers of these texts would hardly have missed the echoes of contemporaneous ideas that orbited in crusade and jihad literatures.

Those Jewish authors who resettled in Acre and their successors, in other words, found this language of holy war useful. Surprising as it may seem, they chose to engage with their neighbors in mobilizing traditions that thematized images of pious warfare in order to convey ideas about their presence in the Holy Land. What cultural and intellectual circumstances would have made these literary gestures possible? This book sets out to investigate this very question. That Acre would have facilitated these kinds of discursive strategies should come as no surprise. Throughout this period, Syria and Egypt saw a steady stream of immigrants from East and West as well as transient visitors, such as pilgrims, merchants, warriors, statesmen, and temporary ecclesiastic officials. Indeed, the Near East emerged as a major multicultural crossroads in which members of the various religious communities shared a common space that generated multiple opportunities for mutually defining interactions. Both in the Kingdom of Jerusalem and around it, European Jews and Christians lived among or maintained frequent contacts with their Muslim, oriental Jewish, and Orthodox Christian neighbors. If at first the political landscape in the Near East was polarized, this too started to change already before the end of the twelfth century. The era of political uncertainty that followed the fall of Frankish Jerusalem in 1187 and the death of Saladin in 1193 engendered frequent alliances across political, religious, and linguistic divides, as members of all three communities regularly collaborated with each other against rivals among their own coreligionists. This political fragmentation also brought about multiple opportunities for economic, social, and intellectual contacts between inhabitants in the region.

And yet for almost a century, the reigning paradigm in the study of the crusading era held the view that contacts between religious communities in the Near East were insignificant, if not in quantity, then in importance. Indeed, in both lay and academic circles, this period is characterized as one plagued with religious fanaticism and polarizing intercommunal discord. Postwar historians of the crusades, says Christopher Tyerman in his revealing survey of crusade historiography, were disillusioned by the prospects of a "benevolent colonialism" and saw the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem as an oppressive regime that had exploited the indigenous populations. Working against the backdrop of French and German scholars who were sympathetic toward the colonial ambitions of their own countries, historians trained in Britain and America (and later in Israel) asserted that the Franks did not adapt to the Near Eastern intellectual climate, nor were they tolerant toward the choices of their subordinates and neighbors. What is more, we are told that even as the Frankish elites came into the habit of consuming regional goods and adopting local architectural practices, they continued to cultivate European legal and institutional traditions and maintained a rigid separation from local communities. It is true that scholars, especially of art and intellectual history, have recognized that the crusading Near East constituted an important site of encounter. The assumption for a long time, however, has been that the Frankish territories served primarily as an impartial conduit through which goods of eastern provenance filtered to the West.

This picture was inscribed by generations of historians who, in search of ways to reaffirm their respective national myths, turned to the Middle Ages and identified the crusades as the site in which Europe was shaped through its rivalry with Islam. This attempt to invoke the authority of the past on behalf of various national impulses meant that histories of the crusades were necessarily conceived through notions of opposition and exclusion that, despite having been critiqued since the 1990s, are proving remarkably persistent. Both continental advocates of the crusading project as a benign colonial enterprise (Emmanuel Rey, René Grousset, etc.) and their less enthusiastic Anglophone critics (R. C. Smail, Dana Munro, and later Joshua Prawer, etc.) engaged in an intellectual project whose roots lay firmly in nineteenth-century sentiments. While the opinions of these scholars on the nature of intercommunal relations in the East varied depending on the political traditions that informed their scholarship, both schools share the fantasy that the birth of modern nation-states can be traced back to the defining episodes that took place during the crusades. The studies of interreligious exchange in the East took for granted the existence of communities whose cultural and political differences were stable and that imagined their interaction as either naively appreciative or stubbornly bellicose. The importance of attempts by Ronnie Ellenblum, Christopher MacEvitt, and most recently Paul Cobb at destabilizing these assumptions cannot be overstated. However, save these notable exceptions, historians have generally viewed intercommunal contact in the East to have been rare and, in any case, restricted to circumstances of political subordination, diplomacy, conversion, or the occasional physical overlap of devotional space. In privileging questions of "influence" or "assimilation," which historians either confirm or reject, these studies accept the assumption that any exchange (or absence thereof) in the Near East took place between clearly distinct traditions that maintained an enduring spatial and intellectual coherence.

This book seeks to move away from this paradigm by showing that physical and intellectual proximity between neighboring and often hostile communities in the Near East greatly impacted and shaped the very language they used to think about their most fundamental concerns. Even as a measure of political conflict prevailed, Christian, Muslim, and Jewish authors in the eastern Mediterranean came to imagine the idea of holy war through each other, in what I call A Pious Belligerence. I do not, however, wish to replace one paradigm by an equally tangential fantasy of a perfectly pluralistic alliance in the Near East. The discourse on holy war that emerged in the thirteenth century was not a synthesis of erstwhile irreconcilably different voices. But a close reading of contemporaneous traditions in Latin, Old French, Arabic, Hebrew, and Judeo-Arabic reveals a dialectic in which the various corpora grew deeply dependent upon one another in their enduring alterity. A Pious Belligerence, then, traces the discursive strategies of writers who engaged with each other by relying on a common stock of images and themes relating to holy warriors and the spaces they were imagined to protect. Importantly, it dwells on ways in which these very notions of militant piety provided Muslim, Christian, and Jewish authors with possibilities for imagining their cultural boundaries and hermeneutical codependencies. The overarching claim of this book is that ideas about holy warfare were dynamically coproduced by authors in the Near East as the various communities thought with and about each other in the context of waging war on behalf of the Holy Land. This notion of cultural coproduction, which seeks neither to dissolve the singularity of the various traditions nor to fetishize their difference, lies at the heart of the approach toward the texts that inform this book. It is worth in this context to recall an essay from 2004, evocatively entitled "Everywhere and Nowhere," in which art historian Anthony Cutler warned of the most elusive yet perilous way in which a premodern object may be "lost"—namely, when it "is treated unquestioningly as the product of a single society—a monolith within a monoculture—mindless of the many strands that make up its fabric and the multitude of responses that this very diversity would have evoked." Cutler's essay sought to draw attention to a kind of myopia from which scholars of so-called "crusading art" suffer, which causes them to view the presence of Islam in Frankish culture as merely "the objectification and ultimately the very essence of what the Franks were not." While Cutler offered an antidote to this oversight in the reading of visual objects from the eastern Mediterranean, his plea speaks more generally to the need to decode a multiplicity of voices at play in works that traditionally have been seen to emanate from monolithic environments. There is a need, in other words, to shift our attention from the mechanics that supported systems of transmission, which occasioned the travel of objects or ideas between communities, and instead focus more on the cross-cultural dynamic that shaped these objects, through which communities rendered them meaningful.

In keeping with Anthony Cutler's pronouncement and with recent postnational impulses in reinterpreting Mediterranean literary and visual cultures, this book sets out to recover the dynamics of cultural entanglement in the Near East that had previously been lost to overdetermined discourses of exclusion and national idiosyncrasy. The discourse on holy war has a long legal and theological history in each of the monotheistic traditions. It has long been a site of particular contention, used by various parties to justify acts of military hostility underwritten by an unambiguously polemical reading of scripture. Indeed, in the crusading period, Christians, Jews, and Muslims all engaged in producing narratives pledging their ideological commitment toward the Holy Land (whatever each meant by this term) and its conquest or protection. But whether in the form of chronicles, sermons, apocalyptic treatises, or vernacular romance, the effort to write about pious warfare involved the use of literary conventions that had themselves become a part of the entwined contemporary history of the area and became increasingly interdependent. By reflecting on how communities in the late medieval Near East imagined themselves by thinking about waging war against each other and by invoking rhetorical gestures that had a shared lineage, this book demonstrates how these communities produced their mutual entanglement.

Seeing as this book seeks to show that narratives on holy war themselves became sites in which authors and communities performed their interdependence, it seems inappropriate to employ overdetermined labels that impose a baggage of political exceptionalism. In truth, this book is not about "Christian," "Jewish," and "Muslim" communities, although the authors on whose works it dwells belonged to one of these creeds. When possible, therefore, I try to be more specific and to use epithets that are as close as possible to the ones that the various authors themselves invoked: Franks or Latins, instead of Christians (or, worse yet, crusaders); Ayybuids, Mamluks, or Zengids instead of Muslims. There is no convenient way to designate the various Jewish communities that inhabited the Holy Land during the thirteenth century, but as with the anecdote that opens this introduction, the community of French-speaking Jews that descended from the rabbis who immigrated to Acre around 1211 plays a central role in the story this book attempts to unfold. Contemporary Hebrew sources often simply refer to them as Frenchmen, curiously mirroring the naming of the Latin Christian inhabitants of the East.

Equally important is the need to be prudent in designating the institutions whose usage in literary and doctrinal sources this book scrutinizes. Scholars have noted an undeniable resemblance between certain institutions in the crusading period and have attempted to explain this as a chain reaction that resulted in imitation. This interpretive strategy, however, implies certain assumptions, for example, regarding political agency. The notion of counter-crusade implies that the Muslim religious elite at the end of the eleventh century was caught off-guard and only fifty years later, largely as a result of its exposure to Christian ideas, developed a doctrine of jihad that was but a mirror image of crusade ideology. Conversely, scholars have resorted to this strategy when in search for the roots of an idea that they deem "foreign" to the culture with which they sympathize. The notion, for example, that the idea of the military orders percolated into Christendom through contact with the Muslim ribat came from scholars who found the (allegedly unsettling) combination of monasticism and knighthood as somehow unorthodox. Irrespective of the direction in which the alleged imitation unfolded, in other words, the expectation that concepts—like "Crusade" or "ribat"—could act as neutral designators of various phenomena across cultures is deeply flawed and reduces the theological and sociological complexities that were involved in the development of these kindred, yet profoundly independent, institutions.

"Chivalry" and even "knighthood" are no less problematic as blanket terms to describe a vast range of institutions with a decidedly different history and ideology. Despite major differences, historians of medieval Europe agree that the turn of the thirteenth century presents a major shift in the crystallization of chivalry as a "self-motivated" code with clearly defined, yet unwritten, normative expectations. More important, there is agreement that it is precisely at this period, roughly between 1180 and 1220, that the ideology that had been promulgated by the arms-bearing aristocracy became increasingly sacralized. Exactly how, where, and to what extent is, of course, a matter of debate: Jean Flori proposes that the warrior aristocracy absorbed militant Christianity into its martial values, allowing the clerical establishment to articulate a knightly theology that defined chivalric courtly culture. Richard Kaeuper, mostly inspired by Maurice Keen, makes a case for a much higher degree of independence on the part of lay authors in interpreting and adapting teachings of the church on salvation and meritorious violence. All of this is to say that chivalry came to take its distinctively iconic shape at exactly the time (but, importantly, not necessarily the place) in which, after the fall of Jerusalem in 1187 and the death of Saladin, the Near East became realigned in a network of continuously entangled alliances, in which the timeframe of this book begins. It is a time, as we shall see, in which authors of the various faiths in the Near East produced a large number of narratives whose very purpose was to investigate the possibilities of a warrior ethos that compounded nobility, gallantry, and piety. In fact, Chapter 3 dwells at length on an Old French composition—Ordene de Chevalerie—that many historians believe marks the very transition of chivalry into this pious noble institution by invoking the figure of Saladin, the Muslim sultan, in surprising ways. The temptation, therefore, to invoke "chivalry" as an abstraction of the various models of militant virtuosity and the multiple attempts at reconciling aristocracy, piety, and warfare is big. Indeed, the use of the term to describe associations of Muslim frontier warriors, whether state controlled or voluntary, has become conventional since the first half of the twentieth century.

But, of course chivalry and knighthood carry many connotations that not only are culturally specific and deeply rooted in the European tradition but also invoke a particular historiography with its own set of questions, some of which were mentioned above. Furthermore, while the Christian authors whose works are presented in this book, including Ordene de Chevalerie, certainly probed the connection between virtuous arms-bearing, dynastic identity, and sacred space (or sanctity, more generally), it is not clear that they necessarily meant the same things as their continental contemporaries or that their texts resonated in quite the same way among their readers in the eastern Mediterranean as they did elsewhere. Similarly, the question of the particular kind of virtuosity that is associated with the claim for dynastic power by the descendants of Saladin, and later the Mamluk sultans, is densely and richly discussed in our texts. Authors could summon a wide range of categories, each with its own history and legal ramifications, with al-ghazi, mutatawiyya, and fityan respectively invoking different early Islamic episodes involving the prophet. Over the course of the twelfth century, terms such as mujahid (i.e., jihad warrior) or faris (horse-mounted warrior) became increasingly more popular. But, again, the fact that authors summoned terms with a richly loaded history does not necessarily imply that they meant the same things as their predecessors. This is not to say that any attempt to decipher the meaning of the various institutions in our texts is futile but simply to caution against assuming that this meaning was stable. Finally, in order to facilitate this suspicion, I try to employ a terminology that is as close as possible to the one the authors themselves invoked.

These semiphilological notes occasion one last methodological remark, about language. The first part of the book traces a transition around the turn of the thirteenth century in the ways Near Eastern authors of narrative sources thought about the notion of pious warfare. Articulations in chronicles and didactic literature in Latin, French, and Arabic show that writers increasingly came to think of holy warriors as being produced, rhetorically and anthropologically, through their contacts with neighboring communities. After 1187, there emerges, for example, a notion that threads through various literary communities, which imagines the Holy Land itself as the generator of pious warriors by virtue of the hybridity that it encompasses. The second part of the book shows that authors belonging to various confessional groups, writing in different languages, came to articulate thoughts about pious warfare through rhetorical devices that had regional, cross-communal resonances. That is to say, the meaning and force of these articulations were achieved partly by invoking tropes and registers that had contemporary purchase in the various communities that inhabited the Near East. This calling attention to the variety of confessional commitments together with multilingualism is deliberately vague about how both grids of multiplicity were mapped onto each other. Such ambiguity is appropriate not only because most authors could choose between more than one language (and, in fact, sometimes between more than two) but also because they inhabited a space marked by a range of linguistic dispositions, which could perform a variety of gestures regarding the history and present of their neighboring communities.

The use of French in Outremer helps to illuminate this important methodological matter. Frankish literature from the East has often been seen as an extension of the literature produced in France during the late Middle Ages. But, as Alison Cornish has shown regarding the use of French in late medieval northern Italy, despite our modern assumptions about linguistic hegemony, there was not always a connection between language and the ethnicity of the ruling elites. This lack of necessary connection helps us to understand the French idiom deployed in the Near East as a now-lost vernacular possessing cultural pronouncements that belonged fully to its own literary, geographic, and political landscape. The French of Outremer, in other words, functioned in the context of a variety of dialects that were all indebted to a range of local and "foreign" traditions. Authors could choose between various registers of Old French, Judeo-Arabic, Hebrew, or Arabic, and they could choose between rhyme, prose, or a combination thereof. These choices allowed their works to function as political instruments able to perform a range of cultural gestures. Throughout the following chapters, therefore, I have made efforts to locate and establish texts that belong to the cultural realm of the Near East without invoking categories—stylistic or material—that presume cultural or linguistic purity. Instead, I have attempted to consider how the texts operated within, and simultaneously created, linguistic spaces that invited a range of possible responses and articulations from their neighbors, past and present.

By tracing the intertextual network of ideas on militant piety between Near Eastern traditions, this book, then, sets out to recover dynamics of cultural overlap that created a shared grammar of spiritual warfare. It explores how various contacts between the three communities and their multiple linguistic modalities created circumstances that allowed for meaningful conversations conceptualizing the shared space of the Holy Land and the intertwined, yet often polemical, spiritualities. Importantly, the discourse on holy war in the thirteenth century does not reveal that communities in the Near East became assimilated or particularly tolerant of each other. A Pious Belligerence, instead, shows that the literary traditions surrounding holy war grew mutually dependent and that their ability to generate meaningful gestures often carried an implicit recognition that their very language had become dialogical.

Chapter 1 provides a historical narrative of the crusading Near East after 1187 and traces the gradual collapse of the polarized political structure that characterized the first century of this period. It considers the political circumstances that gave rise to a new language of militant piety in which soldiers were imagined to perform and to erect cultural, religious, and political boundaries through a complex and dynamic combination of similitude and difference. The next two chapters begin to unfold the consequences of particular ways contemporary authors came to conceptualize the idea of holy warfare in the thirteenth century. The first traces a shift in the way Jacques de Vitry, the archbishop of Acre during the fateful years of the Fifth Crusade and its aftermath, came to understand the dialectic between oriental chivalry and the cultural space that it inhabited and kept safe. We subsequently turn to a number of narratives in Latin, French, and Arabic about the identity formation of noble soldiers, which exemplify the bishop's later views on chivalry in employing categories that emerged from the interplay of cultural trajectories.

Chapter 3 turns to works creating literary spaces that staged women as facilitators of cross-cultural trajectories. I argue that the women in these tales of pious belligerence provided opportunities for authors to explore the work of sexuality in the conceptualization of communal boundaries and the ability to wield sacred violence. The chapter begins with a close examination of an Old French compilation called Estoires d'Outremer that combines historical narrative and legendary anecdote with a curious interest in the life of Saladin. At the heart of this composition is a tale that attributes a fictitious genealogy to Saladin, according to which he was descended from an anonymous French noblewoman who traveled to the Near East and back to France even before the First Crusade. Estoires d'Outremer invites its readers to imagine the Holy Land as a site able to produce two inherently interdependent chivalric traditions—Muslim and Christian—thanks to the primordial ancestress who embodied a combination of spaces, religions, and languages. Thus, Estoires d'Outremer made a case for the sacrality of Frankish chivalry through imagining its interdependence with Ayyubid notions of pious warfare by echoing one of the most popular ways of imagining the rise of sacral power in the Near East, namely, through the work of a hybrid warrior mother. The second part of the chapter is devoted to tales about the birth of militant aristocracies in popular Arab literature from the Mamluk period. These stories show that in the Mamluk imaginary, pious warfare is profoundly dependent on a sense of dynastic instability and is always the product of geographic, and also often religious, displacement. In both Frankish and Mamluk literature, then, illustrious warriors—from Balian of Ibelin to the Sultan Baybars—all owed their militant virtuosity to female protagonists whose inherent hybridity enabled the pious use of violence and whose literary efficacy was achieved through the narratives' mutual dependence on both Eastern and Western tropes.

This point marks a chronological and generic break in the book. We go back in time to the arrival of the French-speaking Jews to Acre around 1211 and scrutinize their usage of a bellicose language mostly in messianic literature. Absorbing a variety of Near Eastern apocalyptic traditions, the generations of Jewish authors who became integrated in Acre penned several messianic meditations on spiritual claims over the Holy Land. These writers also discussed their disposition toward the region and its gentile occupants in messianic terms and provided an eschatological framing of their recent past and anticipated future. Furthermore, by choosing apocalyptic writing as a rhetorical vehicle, Jewish authors attempted to undermine notions of Christian pious belligerence by drawing a polemical connection between the hermeneutical principles that informed Christological militancy and the claim for a right over the Holy Land. The final two chapters employ a thematic approach: Chapter 6 treats apocalyptic sentiments in prophecies and messianic homilies by Jewish, Frankish, and Ayyubid authors. This chapter seeks to place the choice of genre within an interreligious context, claiming that in turning to apocalyptic registers, thirteenth-century Near Eastern authors immersed themselves in a deeply entangled, shared literary space that encompassed all three religions. The decision to invoke the apocalypse, I argue, presented those writers with the opportunity to discuss questions of spirituality and sacred geography through the use of narrative structures and categories that they shared with their neighbors. Although having little to do with actual wars, these texts articulated complex views on belligerent spirituality, enabling authors to communicate critiques on the political, spiritual, and hermeneutical stances of their neighbors through contemporary renditions of older messianic traditions.

The final chapter turns to the theme of ritual purity and the intertwined history of purification rhetoric in Ayyubid, Frankish, and Near Eastern Jewish prose and verse accounts. It suggests that as rhetorical gestures, notions of purity and pollution had an entangled local history and were largely shaped by the intellectual and cultural proximity of the very communities that the rituals, on the face of it, were attempting to exclude. Specific ritual imagery, such the cleansing of conquered holy space through the blood of the enemy, traveled across borders and came to take on new meanings. Claims for purity and charges of contamination became vehicles of interdependence, not only carrying messages of hostility but also marking the intercommunal space from which they derived meaning and to which they contributed.

As this brief summary of the book discloses, A Pious Belligerence is not an intellectual history of holy war or an account of political alliances or militant collaborations during the crusading period. Rather, this is a book about how Near Eastern communities clustered around pious warfare as a set of literary conventions and how these dialogical conventions infiltrated the semantics of contemporary authors. Readers might, then, wonder how authors and audiences of these texts became familiar with traditions belonging to their neighboring communities, especially as those were often written in languages that were not their own. This book does not presume to answer this reasonable concern directly. Scholars of the crusading Near East have amassed a considerable amount of evidence showing that communities maintained regular contacts, both material and oral, that could occasion the kind of exchange of stories and ideas that my approach to the texts assumes. This includes, for example, books that changed hands through commerce or looting, the command of multiple languages by professionals and laymen, the circulation of oral literary traditions, and frequent intellectual collaborations. If scholars have been reluctant to draw out the vectors of interdependence that these circumstances provided, it has more to do with the paradigm animating their scholarship than with the quantity and plausibility of the evidence. This book does not necessarily seek to supplement the existing data with yet more historical testimony of mutual acquaintance but rather to flesh out its consequences for the discourse that arguably was most urgent and loaded for communities in the Near East.


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