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Published: 08 September 2016

256 Pages


ISBN: 9780190226367

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Debating Truth

The Barcelona Disputation of 1263

Nina Caputo and Liz Clarke

  • The Barcelona disputation appears on many syllabuses for undergraduate "Jewish History" or "Introduction to Judaism" courses. Typically it serves to demonstrate the slow but steady erosion of Jewish privileges and autonomy leading to the mass attacks on Jewish communities in 1391 and the expulsion of Jews from Spain in the late-fifteenth century. For the first time, Debating Truth presents this event as it sheds light on medieval Aragonese society and culture as a whole.
  • Graphic history format—combining graphics, primary sources, historical essays, historiography, and study questions—reveals the methods historians use to frame narratives and helps students see the processes by which history is "made"
  • Provides important insights into medieval society, including the role of disputations in interfaith relations, church-state relations, and the position of minority groups in medieval Chistendom.
  • Raises important questions about the nature of religious truth and interfaith relations. By the thireenth century, Judaism and Jews played only a minor political, cultural, military, and social role in western Christian society, both locally and globally. Why, then, did the church, when it was arguably at the height of its political power concern itself with engaging Jews and Judaism in a theological debate? Islam and Muslims represented a formidable military and political advesary. Why did the church choose to combat Islam with military rather than intellectual and theological weapons?
  • Includes a wide range of primary sources: both the Hebrew and Lain accounts of the disputation, documents from papal and royal archives, letters from both Dominican friars and Nahmanides, and selected canons from the Fourth Lateran Council of 1215.
  • An extensive peface, historical essays and an entire part (Part IV) on the historiography related to the disputation set in the event in its complete historical, scholarly, and methodological context.

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