Here’s something I’ve only known about for a few weeks.
“The Disputation of Barcelona (July 20–24, 1263) was a formal ordered medieval debate between representatives of Christianity and Judaism regarding whether or not Jesus was the Messiah.” Apparently, these disputations, over matters of faith, and other important topics, took place from time to time.
“Martin Luther opened the Protestant Reformation by demanding a disputation upon his 95 theses, 31 October 1517. Although presented as a call to an ordinary scholastic dispute, the oral debate never occurred.”
The Barcelona disputation “was held at the royal palace of King James I of Aragon in the presence of the King, his court, and many prominent ecclesiastical dignitaries and knights, between Dominican Friar Pablo Christiani, a convert from Judaism to Christianity, and Rabbi Nahmanides (Ramban), a leading medieval Jewish scholar, philosopher, physician, kabbalist, and biblical commentator.
“During the Middle Ages, there were numerous ordered disputations between Christians and Jews. They were not free and authentic debates (like modern ones), but were mere attempts by Christians to force conversion on the Jews. They were connected with burnings of the Talmud at the stake and violence against Jews. The Disputation of Barcelona was unique, in that it was the only occasion on which the Jewish representative was allowed to speak freely.”
So it sounded like a respite from the general persecution of the Jews on religious grounds, and the rigging of the system. However, the aftermath, according to the Jewish Virtual Library:
The [Barcelona] disputation… prompted the Dominican Raymond Martini to devise a better method of providing christological interpretations to the aggadah. In 1280 Martini concluded his book Pugio Fidei (Paris, 1651), and henceforward it was used indiscriminately by every Christian controversialist wishing to invalidate Judaism.
The king cooperated with missionary activities throughout the realm and the Jews were forced to listen to the sermons preached by the Dominican friars. An order was issued by the latter between August 26 and 29 directing the Jews to erase from their copies of the Talmud any passages vilifying Jesus and Mary. Failure to do so was punishable by a fine, and books which had not been censored as required would be burned…
This was, functionally, a less bloody event of the centuries-long Inquisition, “one of the great blights on the history of Christianity.”
And what, you may reasonably ask, piqued my interest in this arcane topic? It was the death of the actor Christopher Lee at the age of 93 in early June 2015. A Facebook friend posted a reference to The Disputation, a 1986 TV movie starring Lee as King James of Aragon.
Better still, you can watch the hour-long drama here or here.
ABC Wednesday – Round 17