POLEMICS AND POLEMICAL LITERATURE:
- First Appearance in Egypt.
- The Hellenists.
- Church Attacks.
- Discussions in the Talmud.
- Polemics with Christians.
- Petrus Alphonsi and Jacob ben Reuben.
- Raymund Martin and Naḥmanides.
- Pablo de Santa Maria and Joseph ibn Vives.
- Ḥasdai Crescas.
- In France.
- In Provence.
- In Italy.
- In Germany and Austria.
- Isaac Troki's "Ḥizzuḳ Emunah."
- By Maranos.
- In Islam.
Although pagan nations as a rule were not prone to intolerance in matters of religion, they were so with regard to Judaism. They were highly incensed against the people which treated so contemptuously all pagan divinities and reviled all that was sacred in pagan eyes. Especially embittered against the Jews were the Egyptians when, through the translation of the Bible, they were informed of the pitiful rôle ascribed to their ancestors at the birth of the Jewish nation. In Egypt, therefore, originated the anti-Jewish writings, and the apologetic and polemical works in defense of Judaism against paganism. As early as the middle of the third pre-Christian century a Theban priest named Manetho, in his history of the Egyptian dynasties, written in Greek, violently attacked the Jews, inventing all kinds of fables concerning their sojourn in Egypt and their exodus therefrom. The substance of his fables is that a number of persons suffering from leprosy had been expelled from the country by the Egyptian king Amenophis (or Bocchoris, as he is sometimes called), and sent to the quarries or into the wilderness. It happened that among them was a priest of Heliopolis of the name of Osarsiph (Moses). This priest persuaded his companions to abandon the worship of the gods of Egypt and adopt a new religion which he had elaborated. Under his leadership the lepers left Egypt, and after many vicissitudes and the perpetration of numerous crimes they reached the district of Jerusalem, which they subdued.
These fables, together with those invented by Antiochus Epiphanes in connection with his alleged experiences in the Temple of Jerusalem, were repeated and greatly amplified by Posidonius in his history of Persia. The accusations thus brought against the Jews were that they worshiped an ass in their Temple, that they sacrificed annually on their altar a specially fattened Greek, and that they were filled with hatred toward every other nationality, particularly the Greeks. All these malevolent fictions found embodiment in the polemical treatises against the Jews by Apollonius Molon, Chæremon, Lysimachus, Apion, and others (see Eusebius, "Præparatio Evangelica," x. 19; Josephus, "ContraAp." ii. 7. § 15), and were taken up and retailed, with sundry alterations and additions, by the Roman historian Trogus Pompeius, and especially by Tacitus, who, in this respect, displayed such ingenuity as to excite the envy of the greatest casuists among the rabbis.
To the various incidents which, according to Manetho, accompanied the Exodus, Tacitus traces the origin of nearly all the religious customs of the Jews. Abstinence from the use of swine's flesh is explained by the fact that the swine is peculiarly liable to the itch and therefore to that very disease on account of which the Jews were once so severely maltreated. Frequent fasting is alleged by him to have been instituted in commemoration of the starvation from which they had escaped in the wilderness. Their observance of the seventh day of the week is assumed to be due to their finding a restingplace on the seventh day (Tacitus, "Hist." v. 2 et seq.). It is not astonishing, therefore, that, thus represented, the Jewish religion was looked upon by the majority of educated people as a "barbara superstitio" (Cicero, "Pro Flacco," xxviii.), and that the Jewish nation was made the butt of the wit of the Roman satirists Horace, Juvenal, and Martial.The Hellenists.
To defend the Jewish religion and the Jewish race against the slanderous attacks of the heathen there appeared, at various intervals, from about the second pre-Christian century to the middle of the second century
A new polemical element was introduced by Christianity—that of the interpretation of the Biblical text. Having received from Judaism its ethical principles, the new religion, in order to justify its distinctive existence, asserted that it had been founded to fulfil the mission of Judaism, and endeavored to prove the correctness of this allegation from the Bible, the very book upon which Judaism is founded. Aside from the Gospels and the Acts of the Apostles, the first Christian polemical work against the Jews was the account of the dialogue between Justin Martyr and the Jew Tryphon, which took place shortly after the Bar Kokba war against the Romans. The Church father endeavored to demonstrate that the prophecies concerning the Messiah applied to Jesus, while the Jew met his arguments with the traditional interpretation. Justin displayed great bitterness against the Jews, whom he charged with immorality and with having expunged from their Bibles much that was favorable to Christianity ("Dial. cum Tryph." §§ 72, 73, 114). These charges were repeated by the succeeding Christian polemists; while that of having falsified the Scriptures in their own interests was later made against both Christians and Jews by the Mohammedans. A remarkable feature in Justin's dialogue is the politeness with which the disputants speak of each other; at the close of the debate Jew and Christian confess that they have learned much from each other and part with expressions of mutual goodwill.Church Attacks.
More bitter in tone is the dialogue, belonging to the same period, written by the converted Jew Ariston of Pella, and in which a Christian named Jason and a Jew named Papiscus are alleged to have discussed the nature of Jesus. Among other polemical works directed against the Jews the most noteworthy are: "The Canon of the Church," or "Against the Judaizers," by Clement of Alexandria (see Eusebius, "Hist. Eccl." vi. 13); "Contra Celsum," by Origen; Πρὸς Ἰουδαίους, by Claudius Apollinarius; "Adversus Judæos," by Tertullian; "Adversus Judæos" and "Testimonia," by Cyprian; "Demonstratio Evangelica," by Eusebius; "De Incarnatione Dei Verbi," by Athanasius of Alexandria; the "Homilies" of John Chrysostom; the "Hymns" of Ephraem Syrus; "Adversus Hæreses" and "Ancyrotus," by Epiphanius; "Dialogus Christiani et Judæi de St. Trinitate," by Jerome. The main points discussed in these works are the dogma of the Trinity, the abrogation of the Mosaic law, and especially the Messianic mission of Jesus, which Christians endeavored to demonstrate from the Old Testament. Some of the Church Fathers emphasized their arguments with curses and revilings. They reproached the Jews for stiff-neckedness and hatred of Christians; they were especially bitter against them for persisting in their Messianic hopes. The following passage from one of Ephraem Syrus' "hymns" against the Jews may serve as an example of the polemical attitude of the Church Fathers: "Jacob blessed Judah, saying, 'The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come' [Gen. xlix. 10]. In this passage the Jews that perceive not search if there be a scepter or an interpreter between his [Judah's] feet, for the things that are written have not been fulfilled, neither have they so far met with accomplishment. But if the scepter be banished and the prophet silenced, let the people of the Jews be put to shame, however hardened in impudence they be."Discussions in the Talmud.
The Jews did not remain silent, but answered their antagonists in the same tone. This at least is the assertion of Jerome in the preface to his commentary on the Psalms, where he says that in his time discussions between the Church and the Synagogue were very frequent. He further asserts that it was considered a great undertaking to enter into polemics with the Jews—a proof that contests often ended in favor of the latter. However, in spite of the frequency of discussions, no particular Jewish polemical work of that period has survived; the only source of information concerning the nature of these discussions is a number of dialogues recorded in the Talmud and Midrash. These dialogues, like others between Jews and pagans found in the same sources, were more in the nature of good-humored raillery than of serious debate. The rabbis who excelled in these friendly passages of arms with pagans, Christians, and Christian Gnostics wereJohanan ben Zakkai, Gamaliel II., Joshua ben Hananiah, and Akiba. Johanan ben Zakkai answered several questions of an aggressive nature put by a Roman commander as to the contradictions existing between Num. iii. 22, 28, 34 and the 39th verse of the same chapter (Bek. 5b) and between Ex. xxxviii. 26, 27 and Gen. i. 20, ii. 19 (Ḥul. 27b); also as to the regulation in Ex. xxi. 29 (Yer. Sanh. 19b) and the law concerning the red heifer (Pesiḳ. 40a).
Interesting are the accounts of the debates which Gamaliel, Eleazar, Joshua ben Hananiah, and Akiba held with unbelievers at Rome (see Bacher, "Ag. Tan." i. 85). It is noteworthy that even in the time of Gamaliel the Christians used as an argument against Judaism the misfortunes that had befallen Israel. In discussing with Gamaliel, a "min" quoted Hosea v. 6 to demonstrate that God had completely forsaken Israel (Yeb. 102b; Midr. Teh. to Ps. x.). A similar argument was used, not in words but in gesture, by another min against Joshua ben Hananiah, who answered by a sign that God's protecting hand was still stretched over Israel (Ḥag. 5b). This took place in the palace of Hadrian, who questioned Joshua as to how God created the world (Gen. R. x.); concerning the angels (Gen. R. lxxviii.; Lam. R. iii. 21); as to the resurrection of the body (Gen. R. xxviii.; Eccl. R. xii. 5); and in regard to the Decalogue (Pesiḳ. R. 21).
But rabbinical polemics assumed a more violent character when the Church, having acquired political power, threw aside all reserve, and invective and abuse became the favorite weapons of the assailants of Judaism. A direct attack upon Christianity was made by the Palestinian amora R. Simlai. His attacks were especially directed against the doctrine of the Trinity (Gen. R. viii.; Yer. Ber. ix. 11d, 12a). A later Palestinian amora, R. Abbahu, refuted all the fundamental dogmas of Christianity (Yalḳ., Gen. 47; Gen. R. xxv.; Shab. 152b). With regard to the doctrine of the Trinity, Abbahu says: "A thing of flesh and blood may have a father, a brother, or a son to share in or dispute his sovereignty, but the Lord said, 'I am the Lord thy God! I am the first'—that is, I have no father—'and besides me there is no God'—that is, I have no son" (see Isa. xliv. 6; Ex. R. xxix.). Commenting upon Num. xxiii. 19, Abbahu says, "God is not a man, that he should repent; if a man say, 'I am God,' he lieth; and if he say, 'I am the son of man' [Messiah], he shall repent; and if he say. 'I shall go up to heaven'—he may say it, but he can not perform it" (Yer. Ta'an. i. 1).Polemics with Christians.
The Church Fathers who lived after Jerome knew less and less of Judaism, and merely repeated the arguments that had been used by their predecessors, supplemented by more or less slanderous attacks borrowed from pagan anti-Jewish writings. Spain became from the sixth century a hotbed of Christian polemics against Judaism. Among the numerous works written there, the oldest and the most important was that of Isidorus Hispalensis. In a book entitled "Contra Judæos," the Archbishop of Seville grouped all the Biblical passages that had been employed by the Fathers to demonstrate the truth of Christianity. Whether learned Spanish Jews took up the controversy and replied to Isidorus' arguments by counter-treatises in Latin, as Grätz believes ("Gesch." v. 75 et seq.), is doubtful. In Spain, as everywhere else in that period, the Jews paid little attention to attacks written in Latin or Greek, which languages were not understood by the masses. Moreover, the Christian dogmas of the Trinity, the Incarnation, etc., seemed to them to stand in such direct contradiction to both the letter and the spirit of the Old Testament that they deemed it superfluous to refute them.
The expansion of Karaism during the ninth and tenth centuries awakened in the Jews the polemical spirit. Alive to the dangers that threatened traditional Judaism through the new sect, which, owing to the inertness of the Geonim of the Babylonian academies, was rapidly growing, several rabbinical scholars took up the study of both Biblical and secular sciences, which enabled them to advance against the Christians as well as the Karaites a systematic defense of Jewish beliefs. The first known polemist of that period was David ibn Merwan al-Muḳammaṣ, who devoted the eighth and tenth chapters of his "'Ishrun al-Maḳalat" to the refutation of Christian dogmas. He was followed by Saadia Gaon, who, both in his commentaries on the Bible and in the second chapter of his philosophical "Emunot we-De'ot," assailed the arguments of the Church. He maintained that the Jewish religious system, which allowed man to approach as nearly as is possible to perfection, would always exist, and would not be replaced by any other, least of all by the Christian, which transmuted mere abstractions into divine personalities.
More aggressive was Saadia's contemporary, the Karaite Al-Ḳirḳisani. In the third treatise of his "Kitab al-Anwar wal-Marakib" (ch. xvi.) he says that "the religion of the Christians, as practised at present, has nothing in common with the teachings of Jesus. It originated with Paul, who ascribed divinity to Jesus and prophetic inspiration to himself. It was Paul that denied the necessity of obeying the commandments and taught that religion consisted in humility; and it was the Nicene Council which adopted precepts that occur neither in the Law nor in the Gospels nor in the Acts of Peter and Paul." Equally violent in their attacks upon Christianity were the Karaite writers Japheth ben Ali and Hadassi—the former in his commentaries on the Bible, and the latter in his "Eshkol ha-Kofer," in which the fundamental dogmas of Christianity are harshly criticized. The assertion of the Christians that God was born of a woman and assumed a human form in the person of Jesus is considered by Hadassi to be blasphemous. Moreover, the reason given by the Church that God willed the incarnation of Jesus in order to free the world from its thraldom to Satan, is declared by him to be absurd; for, he asks, has the world grown any better as a result of this incarnation? are there fewer murderers, adulterers, etc., among the Christians than there were among the pagans?Petrus Alphonsi and Jacob ben Reuben.
The first works wholly devoted to the refutationof Christianity appeared in the second half of the twelfth century in Spain—the preeminently fertile source of anti-Jewish writings between the sixth and fifteenth centuries. They were the outgrowth of the restless aggressiveness of the Christian clergy, who, taking advantage of the irruption of fanaticism marking the period of the Crusades, planned the wholesale conversion of the Jews through the medium of polemical works written by converts from Judaism. These converts, instead of confining themselves to the usual arguments drawn from the Old Testament, claimed to demonstrate from the Haggadah that Jesus was the Messiah—from the very part of rabbinical literature which they most derided and abused! This new method of warfare was inaugurated in Spain by Petrus Alphonsi (whose name before baptism was Moses Sephardi) in his series of dialogues against the Jews, the disputants being himself before and himself after conversion (Cologne, 1536; later in "Bibliotheca Patrum," ed. Migne, clvii. 535). To arm themselves against these attacks learned Spanish Jews began to compose manuals of polemics. About a quarter of a century after the composition of Judah ha-Levi's famous apologetical work, the "Cuzari," in which Judaism was defended against the attacks of Christians, Karaites, and philosophers, Jacob ben Reuben wrote the "Sefer Milḥamot Adonai." This is divided into twelve chapters, and contains, besides refutations of the Christian arguments drawn from the Old Testament, a thorough criticism of the Gospels and the Acts of the Apostles, in which he points out many contradictions.
About the same time Joseph Ḳimḥi, also a native of Spain, wrote the "Sefer ha-Berit," a dialogue between a believer and an apostate. The believer maintains that the truth of the religion of the Jews is attested by the morality of its adherents. The Ten Commandments, at least, are observed with the utmost conscientiousness. The Jews concede no divine honors to any besides God; they do not perjure themselves, nor commit murder, nor rob. Jewish girls remain modestly at home, while Christian girls are careless of their self-respect. Even their Christian antagonists admit that the Jew practises hospitality toward his brother Jew, ransoms the prisoner, clothes the naked, and feeds the hungry. The accusation that the Jews exact exorbitant interest from Christians is balanced by Ḳimḥi's statement that Christians also take usurious interest, even from their fellow Christians, while wealthy Jews lend money to their coreligionists without charging any interest whatever.Raymund Martin and Naḥmanides.
Great activity in the field of polemics was displayed by both Jews and Christians in Spain in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. Among the Christian works of the thirteenth century the most noteworthy are the "Capistrum Judæorum" and the "Pugio Fidei" (Paris, 1651; Leipsic, 1667). In the latter work, Raymund Martin endeavored to demonstrate from the Talmud, Midrash, and other sources that Jesus is announced in rabbinical literature as the Messiah and the son of God; that the Jewish laws, although revealed by God, were abrogated by the advent of the Messiah; that the Talmudists corrupted the text of the Bible, as is indicated in the "Tiḳḳun Soferim." Some of Martin's arguments were used by Pablo Christiani in his disputation with Naḥmanides, who victoriously combated them before King James and many ecclesiastical dignitaries. Both the arguments and their refutation were reproduced in a special work entitled "Wikkuaḥ," written by Naḥmanides himself. The subjects discussed were: (1) Has the Messiah appeared? (2) Should the Messiah announced by the Prophets be considered as a god, or as a man born of human parents? (3) Are the Jews or the Christians the possessors of the true faith? A direct refutation of Raymund Martin's "Pugio Fidei" was written by Solomon Adret, who, in view of the misuse of the Haggadah by converts to Christianity, wrote also a commentary on that part of the Jewish literature.
The production of Jewish polemical works in Spain increased with the frequency of the attacks upon Judaism, in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, by baptized Jews. Of the latter the most renowned were: Alfonso of Valladolid (Abner of Burgos), author of the anti-Jewish works "Moreh Ẓedeḳ" (Spanish version, "El Mustador") and "Teshubot 'al Milḥamot Adonai" (Spanish, "Los Batallos de Dios"); Astruc Raimuch (Christian name, Dios Carne), who was the author of a letter, in Hebrew, in which he endeavored to verify, from the Old Testament, the doctrines of the Trinity, original sin, redemption, and transubstantiation; Pablo de Santa Maria (Solomon Levi of Burgos), author of a satire on the festival of Purim, addressed to Meïr ben Solomon Alguades; Geronimo de Santa Fé (Joshua ben Joseph al-Lorqui), who wrote the anti-Jewish "Tractatus Contra Perfidiam Judæorum" and "De Judæis Erroribus ex Talmuth" (the latter was published, under the title "Hebræomastic," at Zurich, 1552; Frankfort-on-the-Main, 1602; Hamburg, n.d.; and in Bibliotheca Magna Veterum Patrum, Lyons (vol. xxvi.], and Cologne, 1618).Pablo de Santa Maria and Joseph ibn Vives.
Against the writings of these converts, the two last-named of whom organized the disputation of Tortosa, held before Benedict XIII. (Pedro de Luna) in 1413, there appeared a series of works which are remarkable for the aggressiveness of their tone. The first of this series was the "'Ezer ha-Dat" of Ibn Pulgar. It is divided into eight chapters ("she'arim"), the last of which is devoted wholly to the work of Alfonso of Valladolid. To the letter of Astruc Raimuch there appeared two answers, the more interesting of which is that of Solomon ben Reuben Bonfed, in rimed prose. Apologizing for discussing the contents of a letter not addressed to him, Bonfed minutely examines the Christian dogmas and proceeds to show how irrational and untenable they are. "You twist and distort the Biblical text to establish the doctrine of the Trinity. Had you a quaternity to prove, you would demonstrate it quite as strikingly and convincingly from the Old Testament." An answer to Pablo's satire was written by Joseph ibn Vives al-Lorqui. The writer expresses his astonishmentthat Pablo should have changed his faith. Satirically he canvasses the various motives which might have led him to take such a step—desire for wealth and power, the gratification of sensual longings—and naively concludes that probably Pablo had carefully studied Christianity and had come to the conclusion that its dogmas were well founded. He (Joseph), therefore, begged Pablo to enlighten him on eight specific points which seemed to warrant doubts as to the truth of Christianity: (1) The mission of the Messiah announced by the Prophets was to deliver Israel. Was this accomplished by Jesus? (2) It is expressly stated by the Prophets that the Messiah would assemble the Jews, the descendants of Abraham, and lead them out from exile. How, then, can this be applied to Jesus, who came when the Jews still possessed their land? (3) It is predicted that after the arrival of the Messiah, Palestine, peopled by the descendants of Jacob, who would have at their head David for king, would enjoy unbroken prosperity. But is there any country more desolate than that land is now? (4) After the arrival of the Messiah, God, the Prophets foretold, would be recognized by the whole universe. Has this been fulfilled? (5) Where is the universal peace predicted for the Messianic time by the Prophets? (6) Where is the Temple, with its divine service by the priests and Levites, that the Messiah was to restore, according to the predictions of the Prophets? (7) Great miracles are foretold—the worship in Jerusalem of God by all nations; the war between Gog and Magog; etc. Did these take place at the time of Jesus? (8) Did any prophet predict that the Messiah would abrogate the Mosaic law? "These," says Joseph ibn Vives, "are only a few of the numerous doubts that have been suggested to me by the words of the Prophets. Much more difficult to allay are my doubts concerning the birth, death, and resurrection of Jesus, his intercourse with his disciples and others, his miracles; but these I would discuss orally, and not in writing."Ḥasdai Crescas.
A general work against Christianity was written in Spanish, under the title "Tratado" ("Biṭṭul 'Iḳḳere ha-Noẓerim" in the Hebrew translation of Joseph ibn Shem-Ṭob), by the philosopher Ḥasdai Crescas. In a dispassionate, dignified manner he refutes on philosophical grounds the doctrines of original sin, redemption, the Trinity, the incarnation, the Immaculate Conception, transubstantiation, baptism, and the Messianic mission of Jesus, and attacks the Gospels. Another general anti-Christian work, entitled "Eben Boḥan," and modeled upon the "Milḥamot Adonai" of Jacob ben Reuben, was written at the end of the fourteenth century by Shem-Ṭob ben Isaac ibn Shaprut, who, in 1376, debated in public at Pamplona with Cardinal Pedro de Luna, afterward Benedict XIII., on the dogmas of original sin and redemption. The book is divided into fifteen chapters, the last being devoted to the refutation of the work of Alfonso of Valladolid against the "Milḥamot Adonai" of Jacob ben Reuben.
Of the same character as the "Eben Boḥan," and of about the same date, are the works written by Moses Cohen of Tordesillas and by Ḥayyim ibn Musa, entitled respectively "'Ezer ha-Emunah" and "Magen wa-Romaḥ." A masterpiece of satire upon Christian dogma is the "Iggeret al-Tehi ka-Aboteka," written at the beginning of the fifteenth century by Profiat Duran and addressed to the baptized Jew David Bonet Bongoron. It was so skilfully composed that until the appearance of Joseph ibn ShemṬob's commentary thereon Christian authors believed it to be favorable to Christianity, and frequently quoted it under the corrupted title "Alteca Boteca"; but when they perceived the real character of the epistle they strove to destroy all the copies known. Associated with this letter is Duran's polemic "Kelimat ha-Goyim," a criticism of Christian dogma, written in 1397 at the request of Ḥasdai Crescas, to whom it is dedicated. It was much used by his kinsman Simon ben Ẓemaḥ Duran in his attacks upon Christianity, especially in those which concern the abrogation of the Mosaic law and are made in his commentary on the sayings of the Fathers ("Magen Abot," published separately under the title "Ḳeshet u-Magen," Leghorn, 1785; reedited by M. Steinschneider, Berlin, 1881).In France.
The earliest anti-Jewish writings in France date from the first half of the ninth century. Between 825 and 840 Agobard, Bishop of Lyons, wrote three anti-Jewish epistles, among which was one entitled "De Insolentia Judæorum," and one "Concerning the Superstitions of the Jews" ("Agobardi Opera," ed. Migne, civ.). The author endeavors, in the latter work, to show from various Biblical passages that the society of Jews should be avoided even more than association with pagans, since Jews are the opponents of Christianity. He recounts the judgments passed by the Church Fathers upon the Jews, the restrictive measures taken against them by different councils, their superstitions, and their persistent refusal to believe in Jesus. Agobard's successor in the diocese of Lyons, Bishop Amolo, also wrote against the Jews, denouncing their superstitions, calling attention to the invidious expressions used by them to designate the Apostles and the Gospels, and exposing the fictitious character of their arguments in defense of their Messianic hopes ("Contra Judæos," ed. Migne, cxvi.).
However, works like those of Agobard and Amolo were very rare in France in the tenth and eleventh centuries; they began to multiply only after the Crusades, when every priest considered himself charged with the duty of saving Jewish souls. The many anti-Jewish works of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries include: "De Incarnatione, Adversus Judæos," by Guilbert; "Annulus seu Dialogus Christiani et Judæi de Fidei Sacramentis," by Rupert; "Tractatus Adversus Judæorum Inveteratam Duritiem," by Pierre le Venerable; "Contra Judæorum" (anonymous); "Liber Contra Perfidiam Judæorum," by Pierre of Blois; "Altercatio Judæi de Fide Christiana," by Gilbert Crepin; "De Messia Ejusque Adventu Præterito," by Nicolas de Lyra. From the thirteenth century polemical works in French began to appear, as, for instance, "De la Disputation de la Synagogue et de la Sainte Eglise" (Jubinal, "Mystères du XV⊇ Siècle," ii. 404-408); "La Disputation du Juyf et du Crestian" ("Histoire Littéraire de France," xxiii. 217).
On the part of the Jews there appeared in northern France a collection of replies made "to infidels and Christians" by several members of the Official family, especially by Joseph the Zealot (who is credited with the redaction of the Hebrew version, entitled "Wikkuaḥ," of the disputation of 1240 between Nicholas Donin and four representatives of the Jews), Jehiel of Paris, Judah ben David of Melun, Samuel ben Solomon, and Moses de Coucy. The characteristic features of these controversies are the absence of fanaticism in the clerical disputants and the freedom of speech of the Jews, who do not content themselves with standing upon the defensive, but often attack their opponents, not with dialectics, but with clever repartee. The following may serve as an example: Nathan ben Meshullam was asked to give a reason for the duration of the present exile, while that of Babylon, which was inflicted upon the Jews as a punishment for the worst of crimes, idolatry, lasted only seventy years. He answered: "Because in the time of the First Temple the Jews made stone images of Astarte and other statues which could not last for long; while in the time of the Second Temple they deified one of themselves, Jesus, to whom they applied many prophecies, thus creating a durable idol which attracted many worshipers. The gravity of the fault, therefore, called for a corresponding severity in the punishment."In Provence.
Regular treatises in defense of Judaism against the attacks of Christianity began to appear in southern France. The most important of these were: the "Sefer ha-Berit" of Joseph Ḳimḥi (see above); the "Maḥaziḳ ha-Emunah" of Mordecai ben Josiphiah; the "Milḥemet Miẓwah" of Meïr ben Simon of Narbonne; and three works by Isaac ben Nathan—a refutation of the arguments contained in the epistle of the fictitious Samuel of Morocco (who endeavored to demonstrate from the Bible the Messiahship of Jesus); "Tokaḥat Maṭ'eh," against Geronimo de Santa Fé; and "Mibẓar Yiẓḥaḳ," a general attack upon Christianity. An interesting polemical work was written in France at the end of the eighteenth century by Isaac Lopez, under the title "Kur Maẓref ha-Emunot u-Mar'eh ha-Emet." It is divided into twelve chapters or "gates," and contains, besides a refutation of the Christian arguments drawn from the Old Testament, a thorough criticism of the Gospels and the Acts of the Apostles, in which the author points out many contradictions and false statements. He accuses Paul of hypocrisy for prohibiting in one country what he allowed in another. Thus, for instance, to the Christians of Rome, who clung to the Mosaic law, he did not dare to recommend the abrogation of circumcision and other commandments: "For circumcision verily profiteth, if thou keep the law; but if thou be a breaker of the law, thy circumcision is made uncircumcision." "Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law" (Rom. ii. 25, iii. 31). But to the Galatians he said: "Behold, I Paul say unto you, that if ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing. For I testify again to every man that is circumcised, he is a debtor to do the whole law" (Gal. v. 2, 3). "If this is the case," asks Lopez, "why did not Paul, who was circumcised, observe the Mosaic law? Then, again, why did he cause his disciple Timothy to be circumcised?" To the Hebrews Paul said, "He that despised Moses' law died without mercy under two or three witnesses" (Heb. x. 28); but to his disciple Titus he wrote, "But avoid foolish questions, and genealogies, and contentions, and strivings about the law; for they are unprofitable and vain" (Titus iii. 9).In Italy.
Although the "Disputatio Christianorum et Judæorum Olim Romæ Habita Coram Imperatore Constantino" (Mayence, 1544) is founded on a fiction, there is no doubt that religious controversies between Christians and Jews in Italy were held as early as the pontificate of Boniface IV. (608-615). Alcuin (735-804) relates that while he was in Pavia a disputation took place between a Jew named Julius and Peter of Pisa. Yet in spite of the frequency of religious controversies anti-Jewish writings were very rare in Italy before the Crusades; the only work of the kind known to belong to the eleventh century was that of Damiani, entitled "Antilogus Contra Judæos," in which he sought, by means of numerous passages from the Old Testament, such as those relating to the Creation, the building of the tower of Babel, the triple priestly benediction, the thrice-repeated "Holy," and the Messianic passages, to establish the Christian doctrines of the Trinity and the divinity of Jesus (Migne, "Patrologia," 2d series, 1853; comp. Vogelstein and Rieger, "Gesch. der Juden in Rom," i. 26 et seq.).
But from the time of the pontificate of Innocent III. anti-Jewish writings in Italy, as elsewhere, began to multiply. To the earlier calumny that the Talmud contained blasphemies against Christianity, there was added, after the twelfth century, the accusation that the Jews used Christian blood for ritual purposes. About the same time also there appeared the charge that the Jews pierce the consecrated host until blood flows. The first Jewish polemical writer in Italy seems to have been Moses of Salerno, who, between 1225 and 1240, composed "Ma'amar ha-Emunah" and "Ṭa'anot," in both of which he attacked the fundamental dogmas of Christianity. They were followed by other polemics, the most important of which are the "Milḥamot Adonai" (or "She'elot u-Teshubot," or "'Edut Adonai Ne'emanah"), by Solomon ben Jekuthiel; the "Magen Abraham" (or "Wikkuaḥ"), by Abraham Farissol; and the "Hassagot 'al Sifre ha-Shilluḥim," by Brieli.In Germany and Austria.
The shamefully oppressive economic and political conditions under which the Jews labored in Germany and in Austria during the Middle Ages rendered them regardless of the flood of anti-Jewish writings with which those countries became inundated. It was not until the fifteenth century that a polemical work against Christianity appeared in Austria. This was written by Lipmann Mülhausen, under the title "Sefer ha-Niẓẓaḥon," and it consisted of 354 paragraphs, the last eight of which contained a dispute which took place between the author and a convert named Peter. Lipmann quotes in his work 346 passages from the Old Testament, upon which hisargument against Christianity is based. Very characteristic is his objection to the divinity of Jesus. "If really God had willed to descend upon the earth in the form of a man, He, in His omnipotence, would have found means to do so without degrading Himself to be born of a woman." The Gospel itself, according to Lipmann, speaks against the assumption that Jesus was born of a virgin, since, with the purpose of showing that he was a descendant of David, it gives the genealogy of Joseph, the husband of Mary.
Among the numerous objections raised by Lipmann to the doctrine of redemption, mention may be made of the following: "Why," asks he, "did God cause Jesus to be born after thousands of generations had lived and died, and thus allow pious men to suffer damnation for a fault which they had not committed? Was it necessary that Christ should be born of Mary only, and were not Sarah, Miriam, Abigail, Hulda, and others equally worthy of this favor? Then, again, if mankind be redeemed through Christ, and the original sin be forgiven through his crucifixion, why is the earth still laboring under the Lord's curse: 'In sorrow thou shalt bring forth children.' 'Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee' [Gen. iii. 16, 18]? Were there invisible curses which have been removed, while the visible were allowed to remain?" As may be readily surmised, the "Sefer-ha-Niẓẓaḥon" called forth a number of replies from Christians. Of these there were published Wilhelm Schickard's "Triumphator Vapulans, sive Refutatio Blasphemi Libri Hebraici" (Tübingen, 1629), Stephen Gerlow's "Disputatio Contra Lipmanni Nizzachon" (Königsberg, 1647), and Christian Schotan's "Anti-Lipmanniana" (Franeker, 1659). In 1615 there appeared also in Germany a polemical work in Judæo-German entitled "Der Jüdische Theriak"; it was composed by Solomon Offenhausen, and was directed against the anti-Jewish "Schlangenbalg" of the convert Samuel Brenz.Isaac Troki's "Ḥizzuḳ Emunah."
The Jewish work which more than any other aroused the antagonism of Christian writers was the "Ḥizzuḳ Emunah" of the Karaite Isaac Troki, which was written in Poland and translated into Latin, German, Spanish, and English. It occupies two volumes and is subdivided into ninety-nine chapters. The book begins by demonstrating that Jesus was not the Messiah predicted by the Prophets. "This," says the author, "is evident (1) from his pedigree, (2) from his acts, (3) from the period in which he lived, and (4) from the fact that during his existence the promises that related to the advent of the expected Messiah were not fulfilled." His argument on these points is as follows: (1) Jesus' pedigree: Without discussing the question of the relationship of Joseph to David, which is very doubtful, one may ask what has Jesus to do with Joseph, who was not his father? (2) Hisacts: According to Matt. x. 34, Jesus said, "Think not that I come to make peace on earth; I come not to send peace but the sword, and to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law." On the other hand, Holy Writ attributes to the true and expected Messiah actions contrary to those of Jesus. (3) The period of his existence: It is evident that Jesus did not come at the time foretold by the Prophets, for they predicted the advent of Messiah at the latter days (Isa. ii. 2). (4) The fulfilment of the Messianic promises: All the Prophets predicted that at the advent of the Messiah peace and justice would reign in the world, not only among men but even among the animals; yet there is not one sincere Christian who would claim that this has been fulfilled.
Among Isaac Troki's objections to the divinity of Jesus the following may be mentioned: The Christian who opposes Judaism must believe that the Jews tormented and crucified Jesus either with his will or against his will. If with his will, then the Jews had ample sanction for what they did. Besides, if Jesus was really willing to meet such a fate, what cause was there for complaint and affliction? And why did he pray in the manner related in Matt. xxvi. 39? On the other hand, if it be assumed that the crucifixion was against his will, how then can he be regarded as God—he, who was unable to resist the power of those who brought him to the cross? How could one who had not the power to save his own life be held as the Savior of all mankind? (ch. xlvii.).
In the last chapter Isaac quotes Rev. xxii. 18, and asks how Christians could consistently make changes of such a glaring nature; for the change of the Sabbath from the seventh to the first day of the week was not authorized by Jesus or any of his disciples; and the partaking of the blood and flesh of a strangled beast is a palpable infringement of the dictates of the Apostles.By Maranos.
A series of apologetic and polemical works, written in Spanish and Portuguese by scholarly refugees from Spain and Portugal, appeared in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, in Holland and in some places in Italy. Of these the most important are: "Sobre el Capitulo 53 de Ezaya e autros Textos de Sagrada Escritura" by Montalto; "Livro Fayto . . . em Que Mostra a Verdad de Diversos Textos e Cazas, Que Alegão as Gentilidades para Confirmar Suas Seictas," by the same author; "Tractado de la Verdad de la Ley" (Hebrew transl. by Isaac Gomez de Gora, under the title "Torat Mosheh"), by Saul Levi Morteira; "Tratado da Calumnia," by Naḥmios de Castro; "Fuenta Clara, las Excellencias y Calumnias de los Hebreos," by Isaac Cardoso; "Prevenciones Divinas Contra la Vance Idolatria de las Gentes" and "Explicação Paraphrastica Sobre o Capitulo 53 de Propheta Isahias," by Balthazar Orobio de Castro; "Fortalazzo" (Hebrew transl. by Marco Luzzatto), by Abraham Peregrino.
Though much less violent than the Christian anti-Jewish writings, an extensive anti-Jewish polemical literature has been produced by Mohammedan scholars. The subject-matter of this literature is closely connected with the earlier attacks upon Judaism found in the Koran and the tradition ("ḥadith"), the most debated charge being that of having falsified certain portions of the Holy Scriptures and omitted others. Among the examples of falsification is the Biblical account of the sacrifice of Abraham, in which, according to the Mohammedans, thename of Isaac was substituted for that of Ishmael. The passages omitted contained the predictions regarding the advent of Mohammed and his mission to all mankind. A common point for controversy also was the question of the abrogation of the divine laws—the Sabbath law, the dietary laws, and other Biblical commandments.In Islam.
On the Jewish part very little was written against Islam, and besides occasional attacks scattered through the Biblical commentaries of the Rabbinites and Karaites, and the philosophical works of Saadia, Abraham ibn Daud, Judah ha-Levi, Moses ben Maimon, and others, Jewish literature contains but two productions of any extent that are devoted to an attack upon Islam: the "Ma'amar 'al Yishmael" of Solomon ben Adret, refuting the attacks upon the Bible by Abu Mohammed ibn Ḥazm, and the "Ḳeshet u-Magen" of Simon Duran.
The following is an alphabetical list of printed polemical works in Hebrew and Judæo-German:
|Profiat Duran. Published with the anti- Christian satire of Solomon Bonfed and the disputation of Shem-Tob ben Joseph Falaquera. Constantinople, 1570-75; Breslau, 1844, in the collection with a German translation by Geiger.|
|Joseph ibn Vives' answer to Pablo Christiani. Published in "Dibre Ḥakamim," Metz. 1849.|
|(Disputatio Leoni Josephi Alfonsi cum Rabbino Judah Mizrahi), Isaac Baer Levinsohn. Leipsic, 1864.|
|Ḥayyim Viterbo. Printed in "Ta'an Zeḳenim," Frankfort-on-the-Main, 1855.|
|disputations collected from the Talmud and Midrashim. Isny, 1542.|
|Levinsohn. Against the accusation of ritual murder. Odessa, 1864; Warsaw, 1879, 1881.|
|Isaac Jacob ben Saul Ashkenazi. Amsterdam, 1696.|
|Ḥasdaf Crescas. Published by Ephraim Deinard, Kearny, N. J., 1894.|
|Isaac Onkeneira. Constantinople, 1577.|
|Joseph Ḳimḥi. Partly published with the "Milḥemet Ḥobah," Constantinople, 1710.|
|M. Rosenschein. London.|
|Isaac ha-Levi Satanow. Berlin, 1800 ?|
|Don David Nasi. Frankfort-on-the-Main, 1866, and by Ephraim Deinard, Kearny, N. J., 1894.|
|In Wagenseil's "Tela Ignea Satanæ," Freiburg, 1681.|
|In Wagenseil's "Tela Ignea Satanæ," Freiburg, 1681, and by Steinschneider, Stettin, 1860.|
|Solomon ben Jekuthiel (see Jellinek, "B. H." ii. 43).|
|Levinsohn. Odessa, 1864; Warsaw, 1878.|
|Isaac Troki. Published by Wagenseil, and later in Amsterdam, 1705; Jerusalem, 1845; Leipsic, 1857. In Judæo- German, Amsterdam, 1717; in English, by Mocatta, London, 1856.|
|Solomon Zalman Offenhausen. Amsterdam, 1737; under the title "Sefer ha- Niẓẓaḥon," Hanau, 1615; with a Latin translation, Altdorf, 1680.|
|Isaac Lopez. Metz, 1847.|
|Kozin. Smyrna, 1855.|
|Solomon ben Simon Duran. Published with the "Ḳeshet u-Magen," Leipsic, 1856.|
|Rosenberg. Wilna, 1871.|
|Benjaminsohn. New York, 1898.|
|Published by Abraham Berliner, Altona, 1875.|
|W. Shur. Chicago, 1897.|
|Lipmann Mülhausen. Published by Wagenseil, and at Amsterdam, 1709, 1711, and Königsberg, 1847.|
|various religious disputations. Published by Abraham Geiger, Breslau, 1844.|
|Gabriel Isaac Pressburger. Prague, 1825.|
- Frankel, in Monatsschrift, 1856, pp. 81-91;
- Grätz, ib. 1872, pp. 193-206;
- Giles, Heathen Records to the Jewish Scripture History, London, 1856;
- idem, Notice of the Jews and Their Country by the Classic Writers of Antiquity, London, 1872;
- L. Geiger, Quid de Judœorum Moribus Atque Institutis Scriptoribus Romanis Persuasum Fuerit, Berlin, 1872;
- Thiancourt, Ce Qui Tacite Dit des Juifs au Commencement du Livre V. des Histoires, in R. E. J. xlx. 189;
- Théodore Reinach, Texts d'Auteurs Grecs et Romains Relatifs au Judaïsm, Paris, 1895;
- Schürer, Gesch. iii. 102 et seq.;
- Friedländer, Gesch. der Jüdischen Apologetik, 1903.
Christian Polemics:Wolf, Bibl. Hebr. ii. 993 et seq.;
- De Rossi, Bibliotheca Antichristiana, Parma, 1800;
- Kayserling, Bibl. Esp.-Port.-Jud. pp. 114 et seq.;
- Steinschneider, Jewish Literature, p. 314;
- Winter and Wünsche, Jüdische Literatur, iii. 655-670;
- Hamburger, R. B. T. Supplement, 1900, s.v. Disputation;
- Ziegler, Religiöse Disputationen im Mittelalter, Frankfort-on-the-Main, 1894;
- Isidore Loeb, La Controverse Religieuse Entre les Chrétiens et les Juifs du Moyen Age, Paris, 1888;
- Israel Lévi, in R. E. J. v. 239 et seq.;
- Geiger, Proben Jüdischer Vertheidigung Gegen Christenthum, in Breslauer's Jahrbuch, i., ii. (1850-51).
Mohammedan Polemics:Steinschneider, Polemische und Apologetische Literatur in Arabischer Sprache Zwischen Muslimen, Christen, und Juden, in Abhandlungen für die Kunde des Morgenlandes, vi., No. 3;
- Goldziher, Ueber Muhammedanische Polemik Gegen Ahl al-Kitab, in Z. D. M. G. xxxii. 341-387;
- Schreiner, Zur Gesch. der Polemik Zwischen Juden und Muhammedanern, ib. xlii. 591-675.