Under the Crescent
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Under the Crescent book
This chapter focuses on the Jews of the Islamic world, the vast majority of the Jewish population in the early part of the Middle Ages. The Jewish Middle Ages, then, began with the unification of most of the Jewish world under the roof of Islamic rule, organized around the two spiritual centers of Babylonia and Palestine. As interpreted and expanded upon in the period, rabbinic texts and their influence came to reshape Jewish culture, with Jews looking to the Mishnah and Talmud as a source of juridical, religious, and legal authority. Caliph al-Mansur sponsored the translation of a wide range of texts into Arabic, making pre-Islamic Persian literature and ancient Greek philosophy and science part of the Muslim cultural canon. The influence exerted by the Babylonian Geonim over a far-flung Jewish Diaspora was formidable. More influential was Aristotelianism, which dominated medieval Jewish philosophy from the twelfth century onward and well into the early modern period.