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IMC 2006: Sessions

Session 1625: Judaism in the High Middle Ages: Antagonism or Acceptance?

Thursday 13 July 2006, 11.15-12.45

Moderator/Chair:Eva Frojmovic, Centre for Jewish Studies, University of Leeds
Paper 1625-aReading the Jews in a Christian Community: Problems in Literal and Figurative Identity
(Language: English)
Deborah L. Goodwin, Department of Religion, Gustavus Adolphus College, Minnesota
Index terms: Biblical Studies, Hebrew and Jewish Studies, Theology
Paper 1625-bThe Medieval Papacy: Crusading and the Constitutio pro Iudaeis
(Language: English)
Rebecca A. C. Rist, St Edmund's College, University of Cambridge
Index terms: Crusades, Ecclesiastical History
Paper 1625-cBetween Dialogue and Controversy: Nicholas of Lyra’s Attitude towards Judaism and Jewish Sources
(Language: English)
Ari Geiger, Department of Jewish History, Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Index terms: Biblical Studies, Hebrew and Jewish Studies, Theology

Abstract paper -a: My paper considers the Christian turn to Jewish sources in the 12th century and examines Christian Hebraists' role in the construction of an academic discipline that broke down connections with actual Jews, contributing to their dehumanization, demonization, and expulsion. It focuses on the work of Herbert of Bosham (d. 1194?), whose contact with Jews led him to acknowledge the validity of Jewish expectations. But Herbert's contributions as a Hebraist, while driven by a desire to acquire Hebrew knowledge for theological purposes, can be better understood as an aspect of discursive practices bent on writing Jews out of the Christian landscape.

Abstract paper -b: This paper is concerned with the often ambivalent role of popes as protectors of the Jews, but also as contributors to the view, growing in Europe in the 13th century, that Jews were enemies within Christian Europe. Papal protection for the Jews in the context of crusading remained generally consistent between 1198-1245. The tone of their letters, however, suggests that the popes of this period had different personal views about the Jews, and that some showed more sympathy for their plight than others. Yet despite subtle differences in the language and rhetoric of their letters, all of the popes both encouraged and reflected to some degree in their correspondence the idea that Jews were a threat to Christian society. A specifically crusade-centered approach provides a new dimension for our understanding of the complexities of papal-Jewish relations in the central Middle Ages.

Abstract paper -c: The French medieval scholar, the Franciscan Nicholas of Lyra (1270-1349), is the most prominent among medieval Christian Hebraists. His literal commentary (Postilla Literalis) on the whole Bible (mainly on the Old Testament) is full of Jewish quotations, which he discusses sometimes with antagonism, but usually with a great extent of acceptance. In addition to his commentary, which is Nicholas’ masterpiece, he also composed two polemical treatises against Judaism.
Intensive examination of the various works of Nicholas indicates an ambivalent attitude towards Judaism. On the one hand, in his polemical writings he uses an offensive style against the Jews and the Rabbinic leadership, taken from the ordinary anti-Jewish jargon of his time. On the other hand, one can observe his great appreciation of the high level of the Jewish literal exegesis, and the great extent of reliability he attributes to the Hebrew text of the Bible.