Prescribing Messiah: A Case Study concerning Internal Conversion


  • Ruth V. Lewin-Broit


This paper aims to analyse certain issues in the social and religious history of medieval Jewish communities under the rule of Islam. Its focus is an epistle which was sent by Maimonides in 1172 in response to an appeal from a Yemenite rabbi, Jacob al-Fayumi. The letter, commonly known as Iggeret Ternan, deals with no less than six inter-related topics ranging from family traditions to binding rabbinical instructions. Written at the time of the crusades, the Iggeret reveals the anxious responses of marginal communities to the changes in the quality and structure of power in the Middle Eastern region.