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The Latin Talmud and its Influence on Christian-Jewish Polemic

Final Report Summary - LATTAL (The Latin Talmud and its Influence on Christian-Jewish Polemic)

While polemics and dialogue between Judaism and Christianity are as old as the Christian religion itself, one can clearly distinguish different periods, trends and intensities in the relations between the faiths. A significant landmark in this long and complex history is the Latin translation of large sections of the Talmud, the most important Jewish post-biblical text and the basis for the development of Rabbinic Judaism.

The starting point for the intensive engagement by the Christian world with the Talmud was the approach made by a Jewish convert, Nicholas Donin, to pope Gregory IX in 1239 with a list of 35 articles against the Talmud. The immediate result of this was the inquisitorial process against the Talmud which took place in 1240 in Paris under king Louis IX which led to the burning of the Talmud in 1241/1242. Both the Hebrew and Latin accounts of this disputation show that Christians had become uneasy about this post-biblical Jewish literature and how it portrayed Christianity. Though the Talmud went up in flames in Paris, it was not the end of the story, as the Jews approached pope Innocent IV in order to get the ruling against the Talmud revoked. These events constitute the context of the very first translation into Latin of no less than 1.922 passages from the Talmud known as the "Extractiones de Talmud" (ca. 1245), which are key to understanding the history of the Jews in Europe.

Our project has studied this text preparing the first edition ever of this extraordinary collection, which is extant in two redactions in 11 manuscripts. The study and edition, which compares the Latin Talmud closely with the Hebrew and Aramaic original, has redressed the history of Christian-Jewish encounters during the thirteenth century and beyond.