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The Bible and Crusade Narrative in the Twelfth Century

Katherine Allen Smith

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Sachbuch / Mittelalter


The Bible exerted an enormous influence on the crusading movement: iit provided medieval Christians with language to describe holy war, spiritual models for crusaders, and justifications for conquests in the East. This book adds to the growing body of scholarship on the biblical underpinnings of crusading, offering a reappraisal of the early twelfth-century narratives of the First Crusade as works of biblical exegesis rather than simply historical texts. It restores these works and their authors to the context of the monastic and cathedral schools where the curricula centred on biblical study, and demonstrates how the crusade's narrators applied familiar methods of scriptural commentary to the crusade, treating it as a text which could, like the Bible, be understood through historical, allegorical, and mystical lenses. These glosses of the First Crusade, which collectively constitute one of the great intellectual achievements of their age, drew upon the Scriptures and earlier Christian theology, pilgrimage guides, and polemic to construct the crusade as a new chapter of sacred history. Within this story, the first crusaders played various biblically inspired roles: as new Israelites, they wrested the promised land from Muslims cast as new Canaanites and Babylonians; as new apostles, they reenacted some of the greatest miracles of the Gospels. By reconstructing the interpretive processes that made such readings possible, this study allows us to better appreciate the crusading movement's relationship to church reform, the apostolic revival, and the growth of anti-Jewish sentiment in twelfth-century Europe. KATHERINE ALLEN SMITH is professor of history at the University of Puget Sound.

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