by J J Cohen
So it was one of those nights -- you know, when your child with his upset tummy or his little cough awakens you three times within an hour, then passes into deep slumber while sleep then evades you for hours more. When I finally did return to the land of Nod, I dreamed that due to a classroom shortage my seminar had been assigned to meet in a freight elevator. We gathered the desks into a circle, and we tried to concentrate on some Latin something or other while the cube surrounding us rose and fell. At odd moments the doors would open and students would enter, bound for more comfortable pedagogical spaces than this. Or was I trapped in some bizarre allegory about teaching, the meaning of which wholly evaded me? I finally used all my powers as department chair to have the classroom changed, to an ominous space called the House of Visions. We were on our way there together, certain only that the House was owned by a cult with supernatural beliefs, when the little coughing tummy ache guy woke me again.
So, this morning with a fuzzy brain I am attending a seminar about these manuscript illustrations. The paper is fascinating, asking how a rabbi forced to produce a glossed bible and illustration scheme for a Christian audience intentionally "Judaized" its content. Midrash, blood, circumscision, covenant, and equivocal readings (one for Jews, one for Christians) is what it is all about.