Use in European-Christian history denotes period of barbarism
betweeen two advanced civilizations.
The term "Medieval" was apparently coined by Flavio Biondo of Forl (1388-1463), in his "Historiarum ab Inclinatione Romanorum Imperii Decades," 1483. It implied a suspension of progress--cultural stagnation, "Dark Ages"--between the glory of classical antiquity and the rebirth of that glory in the beginnings of the modern world.
- Webster: medieval [adj]
- having to do with the Middle Ages; old antediluvian, antiquated, antique, archaic, feudal, Gothic, old, old-fashioned, primitive, unenlightened
Not appropriate to Jewish (or Muslim) contexts: Era of religious and cultural
advance and consolidation.
- Christianization of Roman Empire (Constantine, c. 315): Official
persecutions of Jews in the Empire, including the Land of Israel. "Byzantine"
era. Legal inferiority, prohibitions of prosylitization, holding political
offices, types of economic activity.
- Fall of Sasanian empire (Persia): 637. Arab-Muslim conquest of major
Jewish centres in Palestine and Babylonia. Muslim era.
European Emancipation and Enlightenment (late 18th-century and onwards: French
Revolution and Napoleon).
Publication of Shulhan Arukh (1564-5).
- Redaction of Talmuds, especially Babylonian. Traditional date: 499
(problems with that date).
- Geographical distribution: Lack of dominant centres (Palestine, Babylonia).
- Rival religions were now monotheistic "daughter" faiths, not Paganism.
- Religious literature was composed by individuals, not
collectively. Written, rather than oral works.
- Foreign cultural influences: Use of Arabic.
- Major schism: Rabbinites (those who accepted Oral Torah and Talmud) vs.
Karaites (Biblical "fundamentalists").
- Acceptance of Babylonian Talmud as main religious authority.
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