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Reading Petrus Alfonsi before the Talmud trials: The manuscript evidence


Cardelle de Hartmann, Carmen; Senekovic, Darko (2020). Reading Petrus Alfonsi before the Talmud trials: The manuscript evidence. In: Morlet, Sébastien. Ancient and Medieval Disputations between Jews and Christians : Fiction and Reality. Leuven: Peeters, 159-179.

Abstract

Petrus Alfonsi's Dialogus (written ca. 1109) combines polemics against Judaism and Islam with an original apology of Christian faith. The author argues that Judaism is not rational, whereas Christianity and Islam are, and that Islam is basically immoral. He supports his case with aggadic stories from the Talmud, pieces of Arabic learning, and a description of Muslim religious practice, all of which was new to his readers in Western Europe. The work had an immediate success, as the 35 extant manuscripts written before the Talmud trials testify. This paper tries to discern how readers of the High Middle Ages approached and understood the Dialogus, taking into account paratextual elements on the manuscripts, the context of transmission, and purposeful changes made by the scribes in the text. One version and two redactions of the Dialogus (one of them previously unknown) are analysed in some detail. It can be shown that the concentration on religious polemic becomes more intense over time, but there is also a noticeable awareness of the historical and ethical aspects of the text and interest for the story of Petrus Alfonsi's conversion.

Abstract

Petrus Alfonsi's Dialogus (written ca. 1109) combines polemics against Judaism and Islam with an original apology of Christian faith. The author argues that Judaism is not rational, whereas Christianity and Islam are, and that Islam is basically immoral. He supports his case with aggadic stories from the Talmud, pieces of Arabic learning, and a description of Muslim religious practice, all of which was new to his readers in Western Europe. The work had an immediate success, as the 35 extant manuscripts written before the Talmud trials testify. This paper tries to discern how readers of the High Middle Ages approached and understood the Dialogus, taking into account paratextual elements on the manuscripts, the context of transmission, and purposeful changes made by the scribes in the text. One version and two redactions of the Dialogus (one of them previously unknown) are analysed in some detail. It can be shown that the concentration on religious polemic becomes more intense over time, but there is also a noticeable awareness of the historical and ethical aspects of the text and interest for the story of Petrus Alfonsi's conversion.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Book Section, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Department of Greek and Latin Philology
Dewey Decimal Classification:470 Latin & Italic languages
480 Classical & modern Greek languages
Language:English
Date:2020
Deposited On:01 Feb 2021 08:33
Last Modified:01 Feb 2021 08:33
Publisher:Peeters
ISBN:9789042938571
OA Status:Closed
Related URLs:https://www.peeters-leuven.be/detail.php?search_key=9789042938571&series_number_str=21&lang=en (Publisher)

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