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Title: The Jewish-Christian Debate in the High Middle Ages
Authors: Berger, David
Cohen, Jeremy
Keywords: Judaism --Relations --Christianity --History.
Christianity and other religions --Judaism --History.
Judaism (Christian theology) --History of doctrines.
Christianity and antisemitism.
Issue Date: 1991
Publisher: NYU
Citation: Berger, D. (1991). The Jewish-Christian Debate in the High Middle Ages. In J. Cohen, (Ed.), Essential papers on Judaism and Christianity in conflict (pp. 484-513). NYU Press.
Series/Report no.: Bernard Revel Faculty Publications;
Abstract: Polemical literature is one of the liveliest manifestations of Jewish-Christian relations in the Middle Ages. At times calm and almost dispassionate, at other times angry and bitter, religious polemic is a reflection of the mood and character not only of the disputants themselves but of the age in which they wrote and spoke. While the tone of the Jewish-Christian debate ranges from somber to sarcastic to playfully humorous, the underlying issues were as serious to the participants as life itself. Failure on the part of the Christian polemicist could encourage Jews in their mockery of all that sacred and, might engender doubts in Christian minds; failure by the Jew could lead to apostasy and, on some occasions, severe persecution and even martyrdom. Religious arguments could be stimulating and enjoyable, but the stakes involved were monumental. ¶ The Nizzahon Vetus, or Old Book of Polemic, is a striking example of Jewish disputation in its most aggressive mode. The anonymous author collected an encyclopedic array of anti-Christian arguments current among late thirteenth-century Franco-German Jews. Refutations of christological exegesis, attacks on the rationality of Christian doctrine, a critique of the Gospels and Church ritual, denunciations of Christian style that is not especially scrupulous about overstepping the bounds of civility. Although both the style and comprehensiveness pf the book are not altogether typical of Jewish polemic, they make the Nizzahon Vetus an excellent and usually interesting vehicle for the study of this crucial and intriguing dimension of medieval Jewish-Christian relations. (from Introduction)
Description: Book chapter
ISBN: 0814714420
Appears in Collections:Bernard Revel Graduate School of Jewish Studies (BRGS): Faculty Publications

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