The political philosophy of the Middle Ages is, above all else, characterized by the encounter between the ideas inherited from ancient political philosophy and the revealed, theistic religions of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. This means that medieval political philosophers worked within a context very different from their antique predecessors, who wrote in the context of ancient paganism. As a result, in the Middle Ages the political philosophy of Plato and Aristotle was challenged by, and in turn challenged, the religious teachings and religious laws of the three great monotheistic religions of the West. On display in this case are modern editions of the texts sacred to these three religious traditions.
This is the standard contemporary critical edition of the Hebrew Scriptures, which is based on the so-called “Masoretic” text. The text reads from right to left, so the book opens from what would commonly be referred to as the “back.” The text is turned to the opening of the Book of Kings.
This is the standard contemporary critical edition of the Greek New Testament. It is open to the beginning of the “Sermon on the Mount” in Matthew’s Gospel, which is a part of the Scriptures that Christian medieval philosophers were forced to consider carefully because of its challenging political implications.
This is a modern, decorated copy of the Qur’an. These scriptures are written in Arabic and are the basis of Islamic faith. The first flowering of medieval political philosophy occurred primarily in Islamic lands, where philosophers began to read Plato and Aristotle against the background of the Qur’an. Usually these political philosophers themselves wrote in Arabic.