"Josephus in Early Modern Spain: 1492 and the Death and Life of Jews”

Wed, 10/28/2015 - 5:00pm
Van Pelt Library, Class of '78 Pavilion

Julian Weiss, Professor of Medieval and Early Modern Spanish, King's College London
"Josephus in Early Modern Spain: 1492 and the Death and Life of Jews”

DATE: Wednesday, October 28, 2015
TIME: 5:00pm
LOCATION: Van Pelt Library, Class of '78 Pavilion

On March 27, 1492, a few days before the Edict that expelled the Jews from Spain, the royal chronicler Alfonso de Palencia (1423-1492) published his Castilian translations of two works by the famous Jewish historian Flavius Josephus, The Jewish War and Against Apion.  Palencia’s volume, Guerra judaica con los libros contra Appion, thus exemplifies the tension between two facets of Josephus’s writing:  his fierce critique of Jewish sectarianism and stubborn resistance to Imperial order and his eloquent defence of their enduring religious and cultural traditions. This paper explores the cultural and political significance of these Spanish translations in the light of the events leading up to 1492 and it considers whether Palencia appropriated this Romanized Jewish historian in order to open up a space for religious minorities in the new imperial order ushered in by the Catholic Monarchs. Besides reading Palencia’s translations against other contemporary texts by and about Jews and conversos, I focus upon a famous episode of Jewish ‘cannibalism’; consider the marginalia of sixteenth-century readers found in extant copies of the 1492 edition; and speculate on the implications of later Spanish versions for Sephardic identity in exile.

A wine and cheese reception will follow the lecture!

This event is supported by the Faculty Working Group in Medieval Studies, Religious Studies, Classical Studies, History, Jewish Studies, and Romance Languages