Video: Medieval Institute director and historian on interreligious interaction in the Mediterranean

Author: Todd Boruff

“The medieval Mediterranean world is the one really impressive laboratory we have for studying how Jews and Christians and Muslims interacted with each other over a long period of time,” said Thomas Burman, professor of history and Robert M. Conway Director of the Medieval Institute at the University of Notre Dame.

Burman’s research focuses on the scholars of the Middle Ages in Spain and the Middle East. His current project is on Ramon Marti, a Dominican priest who was proficient in Arabic and read extensively on Islam, yet almost exclusively engaged with Judaism in his writings.

“Why is it that the Dominican order’s best man on Islam wrote a little short treatise against it and then ignored Islam the rest of his career and wrote these vast, vast tomes against Judaism?” Burman asked. “I’m using him as a way to exemplify a whole set of attitudes about the Latin world in the 13th century.”

Despite frequent conflicts in modern times, Burman’s research reveals that Christians and Muslims mostly had peaceful interactions throughout history.

“They lived in the same cities; they did business with each other; they entered into business partnerships with each other; they went to each other’s religious festivals, he said. “All of that should remind us that human communities have a much greater breadth and capacity than the tensions of our own age might suggest.”

You can also watch this video on YouTube.

Originally published by Todd Boruff at on December 12, 2017.