We use cookies to enhance your experience on our website. By continuing to use our website, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. You can change your cookie settings at any time. Find out more

Debating Truth

The Barcelona Disputation of 1263

Nina Caputo and Liz Clarke

September 2016

ISBN: 9780190226367

256 pages

In Stock

Price: £18.99



A graphic history that uses a theological disputation to explore interfaith relations, the complicated dynamics between Christians and Jews in medieval Spain, and the nature of truth.

  • 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.

About the Author(s)

Nina Caputo and Liz Clarke

Nina Caputo is an Associate Professor in the Department of History. She received her B.A. and M.A. from the UCLA, and her Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley. Professor Caputo is a scholar of medieval Jewish history and interfaith relations in medieval Europe. She has received fellowships from the Mellon Foundation, the Oxford Centre for Hebrew and Judaic Studies, and the American Philosophical Society. Her first book, Nahmanides in Medieval Catalonia: History, Community, Messianism (2007), explores the history of encounters between Jewish and Christian interpretations of history and redemption. She has also co-editied Faithful Narratives: Historians, Religion, and the Challenge of Objectivity (Cornell, 2014) with Dr. Andrea Sterk. She is currently working on a book that uses Petrus Alfonsi to explore the figure of the convert and conversion in the Christian middle ages and a collection of essays.

Table of Contents

    Part I
    Graphic history (attached separately, page numbers refer to the pages of the graphic)
    Chapter 1."Our lord king ordered me to debate Friar Paul"
    Chapter 2. "We have three types of books"
    Chapter 3. "Jesus never walked with the righteous in the Garden of Eden"
    Chapter 4. "Moses, called master, having been summoned by the lord king"
    Chapter 5. "I write this letter to you from Jerusalem "
    Part II
    The Primary Sources
    A. Nahmanides' Hebrew Disputation Account
    B. The Latin Disputation Account
    C. James I Permits Preaching in Jewish Communities
    D. James I calls for confiscation of Maimonides Sefer Shofetim
    E. James I instructs Jewish communities to attend sermons
    F. James I makes Jewish attendance at sermons voluntary
    G. Royal report of tribunal charging Nahmanides with blasphemy
    H. Letter of reprimand from Pope Clement IV to James I
    I. Letter from Nahmanides to his son Nahman
    J. Selected canons from the Fourth Lateran Council 1215
    Part III
    1. Reconquista and the Boundaries of Christendom
    2. King James the Conqueror (1213-1276)
    3. The Jews of Spain
    4. Disputation in Medieval Society and Culture
    Part IV
    Modern and Medieval Traces of the Barcelona Disputation
    Making this Book: Sources, Historical Narrative, and Visual Media
    Part V
    Resources for Further Research
    Maps and Figures
    1. Jewish Communities and Settlements in the Crown of Aragon 1213- 1327
    2. The Expansion of the Crown of Aragon, 1213-1327
    1. Nahmanides' Disputation Account
    2. Panel showing King James I
    3. Miniature showing King James I
    4. Spanish stamp showing King James I