The Geniza: Legacies and Prospects
A century of academic scholarship on the documents of the Cairo Geniza has dramatically transformed the study of medieval Jewry. This contribution examines how the perspectives and methodologies used to analyze this material have shaped modern conceptions about its content and the societies that produced it. Taking as a basis of comparison the discovery of the papyri in Egypt, the development of their scholarship over the last century, and the importance of that material to the history of antiquity in general, I argue for a need to move beyond the Jewish/Islamicate historiographic perspective and into a global medieval historical perspective in the study of the Geniza evidence. In order to examine how the Geniza evidence—pertaining to social, economic, legal, and cultural history—corresponds with sources of other medieval societies such as Byzantium, Frankia, and Norman Sicily, a new methodology is called for, one that will lead to a new picture of medieval history.
KeywordsPapyri Egypt Byzantium Historiography Comparative history Geniza
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