The Medieval Review 11.11.02

Maser, Matthias and Klaus Herbers. Die Mozaraber: Definitionen und Perspektiven der Forschung. Geschichte und Kultur der Iberischen Welt. Berlin: Lit Verlag, 2011. Pp. 244. . . 24.90 EUR. ISBN 978-3-643-11117-3.

Reviewed by:

Joan Pedro Monferrer-Sala
Universidad de Córdoba

This volume offers a collection of ten papers presented to the International Congress held in July 2008 at the Friedrich-Alexander University of Erlangen (Nürenberg) as part of the interdisciplinary Project "Integration and Disintegration of Medieval European Cultures" that involved several fields of study such as Medieval History, Medieval Latin Philology, Islamology and Arabic studies. The aim of the Congress was to offer a definition of the concept "Mozarab" regarding its historical, cultural, religious and linguistic framework, as well as to present several research perspectives for the correct interpretation of the Mozarabs movement in all its manifestations.

The keynote address of the congress by Mattias Maser and Klaus Herber ("Die Mozaraberforschung am Scheideweg: Zur Einführung," vii-xvi), together with the resumé of the contributions, stress the importance of the study of Mozarabs for understanding the medieval period in practically all of its cultural and social expressions with the aim of providing a status quaestionis from a general perspective, as can be observed in the titles of the four sections which compose the present work:

1. Research History and Research Perspectives (3-35).

2. Literature, Language and (Hand)writings (39-103).

3. Law, State and Society (107-186).

4. Theology, Liturgy and Piety (189-234)

Together with the keynote and the ten articles included in the four sections mentioned above, the book also includes a list of places (237-239) and proper names (240-244). The first section includes two articles that articulate the main aspiration of this collective work that is to gather several collaborations in order to distinguish and define the Mozarab phenomenon as well as their cultural and social manifestations from a methodological point of view.

Klaus Herbers, in an illuminating article ("Die Mozaraber--Grenzgänger und Brückenbauer: Einführende Bemerkungen," 3-9) addresses the question of the crucial problem of the Mozarab communities within their particular context, since these Mozarab groups had to live between two worlds: the Latin and Romance Christianity and the Islam of al-Andalus, since firstly they lived like Christians in the heart of Iberian Islam, but later they lived as Arabized communities on the soil of their fellow Christians, and in both cases they represented an alternative culture to the official one.

Matthias Masser in his paper ("Die Mozaraber: Ein undefinierbares Phänomen?" 11-35) discusses the issue of the definition of the concept "Mozarab" and makes inquiries about the social and religious interaction of the Mozarabs as ahl al-dhimmah within the Arabic-Islamic state of al-Andalus, stressing their Arabization. The author concludes his paper considering a new perspective for the study of the Mozarabs based on the hybridization and trans-cultural reality in which the Mozarabs lived.

The second section relies on literature, language and Mozarabs' handwritings, and brings together three other articles as follows:

Carmen Cardelle de Hartmann's paper ("Die mozarabische Blick auf die Geschichte: Tradition und Identitätsbildung," 39-63) offers an original insight into the essence of the Mozarabs' world view from the data given in the historiographical texts composed by them. She composed her exposition from the Christian authors' texts that served as models (Eusebius of Caesarea's Historia ecclesiastica or Isidore of Seville's Chronicle, among other sources) for Mozarabs' works.

Marie-Therèse Urvoy's contribution ("Quelle est la part d'originalité dans la production écrite mozarabe," 65-74) discusses the original textual contribution of the Mozarab authors to Arabic produced in and around al-Andalus.

Elena E. Rodríguez Díaz, ("Los manuscritos mozárabes: Una encrucijada de culturas", 75-103) re-examines the well-known issue of the Mozarab codices according to their palaeographical and codicological features by emphasizing their socio-cultural and historical elements.

The third section gathers three interesting articles dealing with other three topics of Mozarab field of study:

Wiebke Deimann, ("Die Mozaraber in Sevilla um 1100 aus der perspective eines islamischen Juristen: Zur ḥisba des Ibn Abdćn", 107-124) travels through the well-known Ibn Abdćn's book of ḥisbah to discuss the status of the Mozarabs in Seville in this 12th-century ḥisba treaty by analysing some of the rich information provided by the famous Andalusi jurist related to the ahl al-dhimmah or "subjugated people" in al-Andalus, viz., Jews and Christians.

Christian Sassenscheeidt, ("Mozarabes und Castellanos im Toledo des 12. Jahrhunderts: die Entwicklung des Toledaner Doppelalcaldentums," 125-150) studies, among other issues, the title of mayor (alcalde) as applied both to the Castilians and Mozarabs, at the time he stresses the problems posed by the textual sources from Toledo. Furthermore, he also discusses several interesting sociological aspects of the Mozarabs as, for instance, the formula mezclados con árabes (mixed among Arabs) in the context of the Iberian Peninsula in 13th and 14th centuries.

In his excellent paper "The Mozarabs of Toledo (12th-13th Centuries) in Historiography, Sources, and History," 151-186, Diego Olstein offers an examination and re-evaluation of the historiographic taxonomy of the Mozarab communities. Olstein discusses the development of the contemporary historiographic paradigms offering interesting and valuable assessments in this respect. Of special interest for the present case is the relevant attack that Olstein launches against the term "Mozarab" (mustarib, with a wrong transliteration in p. 160 as al-mustarib without ayn), and the analysis of information provided by the so-called "Toledo documents" with the aim of reconstructing the "History of the Mozarabs in Toledo" through their social, cultural, economic and religious areas.

The fourth section contains two articles devoted to theological and liturgical aspects of the Mozarab textual production:

Igor Pochoshajew, ("Zur theologischen Legitimation des freiwilligen Todes in den Texten von Albarus and Eulogius," 189-207) focuses on the most famous topic dealing with the Cordovan Mozarabs, viz., the martyr movement in 9th-century Cordoba. Pochoshajew's aim is to show how this paradigmatic Christian tool was used in Albarus and Eulogius' works (Epistulae, Indiculus luminosus, Confessio, De Vita Eulogii, and Memoriale sanctorum, Documentum martyriale, Liber apologeticus martyrum, and Epistulae respectively) to explain the process of legitimation of the voluntary martyrs movement in Córdoba.

In her luminous paper "Quomodo universalis ecclesia per totum mundum communi consuetudine...dicere sole: Liturgische Traditionen Spaniens zwischen theologischen Kontroversen und karolingischer Ekklesiologie," 209-235, Patrizia Carmassi deals with the liturgical conceptions of the polemical treatise of Elipandus of Toledo and the Beatus of Liébana to illustrate the position of the Iberian liturgical tradition between the Carolingian Ecclesiology of Alcuin and the theological controversies within the Iberian Peninsula.

The book is organized in a convenient way, although some constructive concluding remarks should be mentioned in appreciation of the editors and collaborators' task in this splendid work. It would have been extremely useful if the bibliography had been gathered at the end of the book and divided in thematic sections as well, since the bibliography used by the contributors can be found only in the footnotes of their respective papers. Likewise, some issues related to the linguistic register, translations, or the Vorlagen of translations of Biblical material into Arabic by Christian Arabized authors in al-Andalus need a deeper investigation.

In fact, the crucial question of the presence of Christian Eastern authors that collaborated in the translations carried out in al-Andalus posed by the present reviewer have not been considered, particularly after having worked tirelessly in this field, viz., "Sobre una lectura del Cod. Ar. 238 de la Bayerische Staatsbibliothek de Múnich: un ejemplo de la labor traductora de los cristianos arabizados andalusíes," Qurṭuba 4 (1999), 194-197, "Notula palæographica: algo más sobre el Codex orientalis 1059 de la Universitäts-Bibliothek de Leipzig," Qurṭuba 4 (1999), 229-237, "Salmo 11 en versión árabe versificada: Unas notas en torno a las fuentes del Psalterio de Ḥafṣ b. Albar al-Qćṭī," Miscelánea de Estudios Árabes y Hebraicos 49:2 (2000), 303-319, "Tradvctologica mvzarabica. Notas a propósito de un fragmento del Codex Arabicus Monachensis Aumer 238," Meridies V-VI (2002), 29-49, "A Gospel Quotation of Syriac Origin in the Fiṣal by Ibn Ḥazm," Journal of Middle Eastern and North African Intellectual and Cultural Studies 1:1 (2002), 127-146, "Anecdota muqtabisiana: sobre un hapax legomenon contenido en el Muqtabis V de Ibn Ḥayyān," Al-Qanṭara 23:2 (2002), 335-341, "Yā-btā l-lādī fī l-samāwāt...Notas sobre antiguas versiones árabes del Padre Nuestro," Al-Qanṭara 21:2 (2000), 277-305.

Also of interest for the books utilized by the Mozarab groups are both the use of apocryphal New Testament texts like the Epistle to the Laodiceans (see my article in collaboration with Philippe Roisse: "Una versión árabe andalusí de la 'Epístola apócrifa a los Laodicenses'," Qurṭuba 3 [1998], 113-151) or the presence among Christians and Muslims in North-Africa/al-Andalus of a translation into Arabic from the Syriac Nestorian Pešīṭtā ("A Nestorian Arabic Pentateuch used in Western Islamic Lands," in David Thomas, ed., The Bible in Arab Christianity [Leiden: Brill, 2007], 351-368) that poses the question of a possible settlement of Syriac Eastern Christians in al-Andalus or around it in some point of the Mediterranean Sea, and a possible implication of this/these group(s) with Spanish Adoptionism ideas as well. All in all, for general considerations dealing with the "Christian Arab Literature" of al-Andalus not mentioned in the volume one of my state-of-the-art articles ("Los cristianos arabizados de al-Andalus," in Historia de Andalucía. III. Andalucía en al-Andalus, Directora del volumen María Jesús Viguera Molins [Sevilla: Fundación J. M.ª Lara-Planeta, 2006], 226-234) can be checked.

On the other hand, my polemical approach to the 9th-century movement of the martyrs of Córdoba ("Mitografía hagiomartirial: De nuevo sobre los supuestos mártires cordobeses del siglo IX," in Maribel Fierro, ed., De muerte violenta: Política, religión y violencia en al-Andalus [Madrid: CSIC, 2004], 415-450) seems to have been silenced in some passages of the book that deals with the topic.

Last but not least, it would be of great importance to assess the language of the Mozarab communities of Toledo in consideration of the data offered by I. Ferrando in his authoritative study about the dialect of the Arabized Christians of Toledo during the 12th and 13th centuries (El dialecto andalusí de la Marca media: Los documentos mozárabes toledanos de los siglos XII y XIII [Zaragoza: Área de Estudios Árabes e Islámicos, 1995]).

Nevertheless it is quite fair to mention that in this slender volume the editors have coordinated a kind of short treatise on the Mozarabs, and have used it to make valuable contributions to the study of the history of one of the most important events in the history of the Iberian Peninsula in the Middle Ages. One hopes not only that the trend towards new editions of collective works like this will follow since they are necessary to continue putting forward new hypotheses, but also that Maser and Herbers' work will inspire others to focus on the especial situation of Mozarab communities, to further our understanding of the social, religious and cultural history of the Mozarabs in general.

In sum, this is an excellent collection of very interesting contributions covering a narrow but exciting range of subjects dealing with the Mozarabs. We hope that the editors and collaborators will continue to delight with new and interesting papers like those included in this very relevant book for the researchers who are working in the Middle Ages.