Hispanic Hebrew Poetry: a Bridge between the Bible and Medieval Iberian Literatures
Doron, Aviva (University of Haifa)
eHumanista: Volume 14, (2010)
While literature tends to reflect historic, religious and social processes, intercultural contacts are reflected mainly in the works of poets from minority groups, as they speak the languages of their environment and are familiar with the literatures of the majority. In this context it is interesting to examine the Hebrew literature written in medieval Spain as a reflection of the inter-cultural dialogues that were taking place at the time, and as a riveting literary phenomenon. One of its outstanding and unique characteristics is that it serves as a literary bridge between the clearly defined literary genres of medieval Spanish literature in its various languages, and the language of the Bible. One fundamental issue stands out among the questions of research and methodology that face the scholar: how can one distinguish between influence and original expression? Does the encounter between a minority culture and the majority literature cause the former to be influenced to the point of self-effacement or does it motivate the poets of that minority culture to seek original paths of expression, and is that search reflected in new departures in their works? Another question that arises relates to the use of biblical language: does it restrict the creative leeway of the Hebrew poets or enable them to break away to new forms of expression?