Congrès Mondial des Études sur le Moyen-Orient et l'Afrique du Nord

Barcelone, du 19 au 24 julliet 2010

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MEDIEVAL AND RENAISSANCE PERCEPTIONS OF CULTURAL OTHERNESS - 2/2 (218) - NOT_DEFINED activity_field_Panel
 

· NOT_DEFINED language: English

· NOT_DEFINED description: Chair: Alexander Fidora (Research Professor - Professor, Institució Catalana de Recerca i Estudis Avançats, ICREA)

Paper presenter: András Kraft (Graduate Student, Eotvos Lorand University, Hungary), "Is the faith of the "Ishmaelites" a Christian heresy?".
Is the faith of the 'Ishmaelites’ a Christian heresy? Following the Arab conquest of Roman East, John of Damascus penned the first comprehensive accounts of the ‘Ishmaelites’; a traditional term designating Arabs. Not only does the Damascene appear to have a thorough knowledge about Muslim principles of faith and customs, he also seems to have been actively engaged in theological debates, some of which he reconstructs in his manuals on Islam. It is obvious, that for the pious Damascene, Islam could have been nothing but a superstition, a false confession. Furthermore, the encroaching ‘Ishmaelites’ seem to have been perceived in general by the Eastern Christians not like the radical "other", but like a remote, but somewhat familiar kinsfolk, a people who recently adapted a corrupted faith and who happened to be successful on the battlefield. I advocate the view that John of Damascus engaged the ‘Ishmaelite’ confession theologically not only in order to incorporate it into the Christian eschatology, but also to actively engage and expostulate it, as he did with any heresy he dealt with. In the end, that is why he places it along other deviations of true faith, such as Monophysitism and Iconoclasm, which were in his view far more serious heresies. In order to support these claims the only methodology applicable is a comparative study, which I will limit to (a) contrasting the doctrines of the nascent faith of the ‘Ishmaelites’ with John’s understanding of the Arian confession, and (b) examining similarities between his approaches towards Islam on the one hand, and Monophysitism on the other. I suggest that the Damascene understood the heresy of the ‘Ishmaelites’ as a continuation and blending of various heterodoxies, which explains the fact that it poses new questions, issues and principles, differing from the ones its anathematized predecessors exemplify.

Paper Presenter: F. Ozden Mercan (PhD candidate- Bilkent University, Department of History, Turkey), “Ottoman Islam from the Eyes of the Renaissance Humanists" Throughout the Middle Ages, a caricatured and contemptuous denigration of the Muslim enemy was maintained and perpetuated by Christian writers. In fact, most of the images created for Muslims were generally what both writers and their audience wanted to believe rather than the reality. It is hard to offer a general explanation for such polemical texts, as each was shaped by the political and ideological atmosphere at the time when it was written. Still, for all of them there is one basic common point: negative and inferior image of Islam. It is suggested that during the decade from 1450 to 1460 some outstanding Renaissance humanists such as Nicholas of Cusa adopted a different approach, namely a tolerant and peaceful method based on understanding in order to solve the long-lasting problem of Islam, and for the sake of this aim, he wrote De Pace Fidei, in which he dealt with various religions including Islam and emphasized the idea of unity among them, and Cribratio Alkorani, the detailed examination of the Koran. My aim in this paper is to re-evaluate Nicholas of Cusa’s approach towards Islam in the context of his works and discuss whether his approach can be considered as revolutionary or it only follows the traditional patterns. Moreover, in this framework I will also analyze the so-called conversion letter written by Pope Pius II to Mehmed II (1461), which is claimed to have been written under the influence of this peaceful attempt. As Pope Pius in his letter largely derived from Nicholas of Cusa’s Cribratio Alchorani, his letter requires in-depth examination to see Renaissance approaches to Islam. The outcome of my study will be that although Renaissance period is regarded as a period of new way of thinking and new interpretations in all fields from history, literature, religion (Christianity) to art, music and architecture, it brings nothing new in the interpretation and perception of Islam and it just repeats the medieval themes except for some shifts of emphasis. In this respect, although it is suggested by some scholars as Richard Southern that fifteenth century brought new interests to Christian-Muslim relations through the works of Nicholas of Cusa and some other intellectuals, still little seems to have been done to change already deeply-rooted body of medieval polemics.

Paper presenter: Katarzyna Krystyna Starczewska (Research fellow, Universidad Autónoma de Barcelona, Spain), "A Latin Translation of the Qur'an (Egidio da Viterbo, 1518) as Seen By the Copyist".
Egidio da Viterbo, an Italian Augustinian cardinal, ordered a Latin translation of the Qur’ān, which he received in 1518. In 1525 the translation done by Iohannes Gabriel Terrolensis was revised and corrected by Iohannes Leo Granatinus (also known as al-Hasan al-Wazzān and Yūhannā al-Asad), the author of the Descrittione dell’Africa (1526). Although the original manuscript has not been preserved, we have been left with its two copies (Cambridge University Library, MS Mm. v. 26 and Milan, Biblioteca Ambrosiana, MS D. 100 inf.), the latter of which is preceded by a prologue written by the copyist David Colville Scot.
Egidio da Viterbo’s Qur’ān is of our scholar interest for many reasons: firstly, because it is preserved in inedited manuscripts and it constitutes part of the Qur’ān Latin translation tradition. As far as we know, these translations were done for Christians, very often with a clear tendency to refute the Muslim religion. Secondly, the 1518 translation of the Qur’ān shows clearly a philological interest, which may be considered dominant over the polemical one and therefore can be linked with the emerging studies of Orientalism.
The aim of our article is to present, first, our preliminary notes on the intellectual network of the persons involved in this particular translation of the Qur’ān, and, subsequently, focus on the Milan manuscript’s prologue and trace some references to the information from the prologue in the main body of the Qur’ān translation. We would like to focus on such aspects as: a) the evidence of the lost original’s four columns, of which the first contained the Arabic text, the second – the transcription with Latin characters, the third – the Latin translation and the fourth – Latin notes based on the Qur’ānic commentaries; b) the observations of the copyist concerning the quality of the translation and the persons of Iohannes Gabriel Terrolensis and Iohannes Leo Granatinus; c) some scarce pieces of information which the copyist gives about himself; d) some clues about the source of the commentaries and indices which can be deduced from the prologue.