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Title: Jacob Katz on Jews and Christians in the Middle Ages
Authors: Berger, David
Harris, Jay M.
Keywords: Katz, Jacob, 1904-1998
Jews and Christians in the Middle Ages
Jewish-Christian relations
Citation: Berger, D. (2002). Jacob Katz on Jews and Christians in the Middle Ages. In J. M. Harris, (Ed.), The pride of Jacob: Essays on Jacob Katz and his work (pp. 41-63). Harvard UP.
Abstract: Few scholars indeed have produced seminal works of abiding value in areas outside their primary field of expertise. Jacob Katz's Exclusiveness and Tolerance, which is precisely such a work, is remarkable testimony to the power of wide learning, penetrating insight, and exceptional instincts to overcome significant lacunae in the author's command of relevant material. (1) Katz was not a medievalist; he was not deeply conversant with Christian sources; and he did not study the full range of Jewish texts relevant to the relationship between medieval Christians and Jews. Thus, Christian works play virtually no role in any facet of his analysis. His discussion of the motivation of Christian converts to Judaism, for example, makes no reference to the one memoir by such a convert that addresses this question explicitly, and his assertion that the doctrine of Jewish toleration was not fully worked out until Aquinas provides a somewhat misleading impression that probably results from lack of familiarity with earlier texts by churchmen of lesser renown. Apart from the famous Paris disputation, to which he devotes an important chapter, he makes virtually no use of Jewish polemical literature, so that we find precisely one reference to Sefer Yosef ha-Meqanne, the central polemical text in thirteenth- century France, and no reference at all to the Nizzahon Vetus, a major compilation of anti-Christian arguments in medieval Ashkenaz, which is the sphere of culture standing at the center of his work.(2) Yet this little volume, described by Katz himself as a collection of essays rather than a sustained study, has deservedly become the starting point for all serious discussion of Jewish approaches to Christianity in medieval Europe. (from Introduction)
Description: Book chapter
Appears in Collections:Bernard Revel Graduate School of Jewish Studies (BRGS): Faculty Publications

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