Responsa and Archival Records in Legal and Cultural Conversation
Research Project supported by the German-Israeli Foundation of Science Research and Development
Rabbinic responsa and archival records have traditionally served two distinct populations of scholars studying the history of Jews and Christians in medieval Europe. In recognition of the mutual value of integrating these two bodies of historical sources with their discrete linguistic, legal and cultural features, our project aims to bring together experts on both corpora for extended collaboration. The primary goal is to produce a comprehensive register of responsa from the environs of the 13th and 14th century Roman-German Empire that, read together with related archival records, will illuminate new avenues for research into the history of medieval Ashkenaz. This register will:
(a) make accessible and contextualize responsa that can be dated, located, or linked to specific interlocutors and thus deemed “historical,” as well as responsa that include references and insights into Christian practices and customs; and
(b) bring Latin and German archival sources into conversation with rabbinic literature and demonstrate their utility as witnesses to the reception of Jewish law and customs in the medieval Christian world.
Topics to be highlighted in the register’s collaborative commentary include economic and social interactions between Jews and Christians, the administration of taxes and the registration of real estate, the negotiation of legal rights, and local judicial practice and forms of punishment, as well as parallel religious customs and societal conventions. Both geographical and chronological scopes of the project correspond roughly to the first phase of work on the “Medieval Ashkenaz” database at the University of Trier, a cooperating partner in this undertaking (http://www.medieval-ashkenaz.org/).
Cooperating Investigator: Dr. Christoph Cluse (Arye Maimon Institute for Jewish History, University of Trier)
Researchers/Wissenschaftliche Mitarbeiterinnen: Dr. Rachel Furst, Sophia Schmitt
Research Assistant: Alon Brand