chapter  9
Beauty and the Bestiary
Animals, Wonder, and Polemic in Medieval Ashkenaz
ByDavid I. Shyovitz
Pages 25

This chapter illustrates the embeddedness of Pietistic thought in its medieval northern European context, through a case study of the role of animals in Pietistic and contemporary Christian theological writings. It focuses on an array of Pietistic didactic and exhortatory texts-writings which were intended to convey Pietistic theological teachings to a wider lay audience and which may have initially been preached orally. The chapter examines the means by which ideas could be shared between the two neighbouring communities and the role played by preaching in particular. For during the High Middle Ages, ideas about the spiritual significance of the animal world were not only being articulated in writing, but also increasingly being incorporated into sermons by Christian preachers throughout Western Europe. It demonstrates that Jewish thinkers were well aware of the anti-Jewish ideas being preached by their Christian neighbours, and that they sought to respond in kind.