• Meyer Grunberg

The Disputation of Barcelona Begins, 1263

Updated: Dec 4, 2020

On This Day in Jewish History: July 20th, 1263

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A precursor to the Inquisition, The Disputation of Barcelona, one of the Church and Crown's formal attempt to put Judaism "on trial" began #onthisday.

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It was a four day debate between Dominican Friar Pablo Christiani (a Jewish convert) and Rabbi Moses ben Nahman (aka Ramban/Nachmanides).

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The debate took place in front of King James I who granted Nachmanides "freedom of speech" so that the debate could seem real. The agenda of the debate, which was decided solely by the Christian side: had the Messiah already appeared (in the form of Jesus), is the Messiah a human or divine being, and which faith was the true faith.

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Pablo Christiani selectively based his argument on the Talmud, specifically the aggadic passages (anecdotes and legends found in the Talmud) to prove his points.

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Nachmanides countered by arguing that the Talmud would not explicitly oppose Jesus nor hint to him being the Messiah. He reasoned by stating that Jews do not have to specifically believe in the aggadah portions of the Talmud (a political move for the sake of the debate imposed on him) and the promises of Messianic times - reigning peace and justice - have yet to appear in a world after Jesus, if anything there was more war now then there was before his time.

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The fallout of the Disputation was grave: Dominican Raymond Martini realized that a "better" read of aggadah was needed and wrote a book denouncing it in 1280 which was used by many later Christians in arguments against Judaism itself. The king decided that missionary activities should be selectively directed against Jews and required them to hear the sermons of Dominican friars.

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In August, the Friars required all Jews to erase any part of the Talmud which spoke of Jesus or Mary and if they did not, their books would be burned and they would have to pay a fine.

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Mass text burnings ensued regardless of what was found. Soon after, The Bishop of Gerona received a copy of Nachmanadies’ account of the disputation and brought "charges" against him in court causing him to flee Spain for Israel where he arrived in 1267.

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#judaism#jewish#history#jewishhistory#disputation#barcelona#onthisday#1263


Text Source:

https://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/disputation-of-barcelona

Image Source:

http://www.laits.utexas.edu/bodian/me-disputationBarcelona.html

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