Martin-Gropius-Bau - Jews, Christians and Muslims

Today’s scientific world rests upon the shoulders of the Jewish, Christian and Muslim scholars who translated ancient scriptures in the Middle Ages; first in the Middle East into Arabic, and then in Europe – starting in southern Italy and Spain – from Arabic into Latin. The significance of this transfer of knowledge cannot be overstated, even if it wasn’t the only strand of transmission. The arrival of Aristotle’s writings in medieval Europe, for example, was possible largely thanks to this translation activity.

Serving as a starting point throughout the Middle Ages was the cultural heritage from Antiquity: Greek and Roman knowledge. Transmitted via Byzantium, but above all through the early translations by Arabic scholars, it left its mark on the entire Middle Ages. The exhibition strikingly shows how, after translation into the respective language and knowledge culture, the comments and excerpts from original works served to initiate a creative process of appropriation.
Aristotle (384-322 B.C.) - Manuscript miscellany of philosophical writings, mainly texts by Aristotle (Greek). Rome, 1457 Cod. Phil. gr. 64, fol. 8v © Austrian National Library
The philosopher, identified by the name inscription, is shown seated and writing on his Physics at a lectern that also holds several manuscripts. The copy and the decoration were produced in the studio of a Byzantine scribe (John Rhosos of Crete) in Rome and attest to the vivid exchange between the two cultures, which was promoted by the “migration” setting in after the fall of Constantinople (1453). Above the inscription of the name Aristotle appears the indistinct owner’s mark of Hieromonachos Esaias of Cyprus.

Start date: December 9, 2017
End date: March 4, 2018
Address: Niederkirchnerstraße 7, 10963 Berlin
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