Formerly it was thought to have been written in , as stated in the text p. Israel Davidson argued — quite rightly — in two of his writings that the work cannot be earlier than the year or See Davidson — Both A. Posnanski and D. Lasker dated it to the first part of the 18th century. See Simonsen and Lasker The author of the present proposal attempts to date the treatise in a forthcoming article with sufficiently high accuracy. George Belasco in London. To be honest, it should be added that there is much room for improvement with Belasco's text edition: manuscripts which could be available even in Belasco's time are not examined thoroughly; the edition often follows a corrupt reading.
Biblical and rabbinical citations, which abound on every page, are left unidentified; likewise the allusions to various Christian ceremonies or liturgical practices are left unexplained in Belasco's edition. Alexander Marx made available to the general public a very interesting composition, a parody in verse form of the Maimonidean creed — Yigdal — entitled Yushfal Elil attributed to the poet Simson Cohen Modon — Lasker in the journal Italia.
If we are to consider the scholarly studies devoted to our subject, the situation seems to be more disappointing. There exists no comprehensive monograph on the subject of Jewish polemical activity in the Early Modern period. Modena's Magen va-Hereb has already been known prior to its appearance in print, and inspired a great deal of interesting studies — albeit the popularity of the author is due more to his extraordinary personality and his adventurous life, than to his polemical activity. In the IMHM a microfilm copy of Belasco's edition can be found with invaluable marginal notes and additions written by Adolf Posnanski.
See no. The author or the project description have found further manuscript evidences of the text, not indicated in the catalogue of IMHM. The author or the present proposal have found further manuscript evidences of the text, not indicated in the catalogue of IMHM.
Steinschneider66 and I. Levi,67 while a short Italian language polemical treatise by him was published in the 70s of the last century. Brann,71 subsequently the text was analyzed in more detailed way by I.
The same is true of Aharon Hayim Volterra, in Steinschneider's view, author of the most important and still unpublished polemic of the age. B Issues left unresolved by previous research In sum, we can surely state that few, if any, attempts have been made so far to integrate this important early modern polemical material into the mainstream of scientific research: 62 Maier For further bibliographical notices see Salah — See nos.
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The majority of the texts are unpublished; hence they are totally unfamiliar to the scholarly world. There is no appropriate set of criteria which would allow us to identify, on the one hand, the anonymous texts originating in the early modern period, and, on the other hand, those of Italian provenance. Except for some text published recently, the analysis of the entire polemical corpus has not yet been accomplished. This defect seems to prevent the integration of this text corpus into the scientific discourse on early modernity. The proposed research aims to remedy the deficiencies mentioned so far.
These character traits would further allow us to date and to locate texts previously unknown or unidentified.
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The methodology of this technique will be elaborated on the following pages. At the end of the research period, we will summarize our results in a coherent and up-to-date monograph, an overall account in English of the topical and formal characteristics of Jewish polemical treatises written in such large numbers in Early Modern Italy.
Abundant examples to prove our statement are cited below. Further questions which will be dealt with in the monograph: How did Jewish and Christian cultures interact in the period under consideration?
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Which values, cultural schemes or ways of thinking were transplanted in Judaism in the period under consideration? Why were so many polemical texts written in 18th century Italy? Texts were no longer or not only the philosophical-theological tracts, they were in the Middle Ages. In addition, as also will be demonstrated on the following pages, texts were still functioning as "boundary-markers", as before, but the boundaries drawn by this new type of texts do not always coincide with the boundaries we expected to be drawn.
The task of justifying our statements concerning early modern polemics, formulated before, brings us back to the question articulated on the first pages of this description, namely, what kind of methodology would allow us to discern any significant difference between texts written in the Middle Ages and those ones which emerged later, in the early modern period? To illustrate the changes, let us briefly scrutinize the most common subject-matter of the medieval polemics, to be able to trace their progress in the period under consideration.
Following the changes in topics, we will have the opportunity to specify other literal, stylistic, linguistic or rhetorical innovations characteristic of the new era, too. The main issues around which the controversy in the Middle Ages revolved are 1. The text of the Hebrew Bible has been a battlefield for polemicists since Antiquity, especially those verses attracted the attention of the exegetes which were capable of being interpreted in a Christological way. With the passage of time, some new tendencies emerged, Christians also began to realize that Judaism was a rabbinic and not a biblical religion.
Some polemicists of the Christian side mainly Jewish converts had a preference for scrutinizing the Rabbinic texts looking for anti-Christian passages in them, subsequently alleged testimonies of Christianity's truth were searched for in the Talmud or on the pages of the midrashim. Likewise several verses of the New Testament were criticized by Jewish authors, pointing out their inconsequence and the real or perceived contradictions in the text, afterwards the disagreement between the teaching of Jesus and the doctrines of the Church was vehemently attacked.
The main objective of the philosophical onslaught against Christianity was to detect those statements of the Christian theology which were considered incompatible with the premises of Aristotelian logic — the science par excellence of those days. Most fervidly criticized subjects were: trinity, incarnation, transubstantiation and the virgin birth of Jesus.
As Daniel J. Lasker demonstrated in a very stimulating article, hardly had Averroist trends gained acceptance in Jewish philosophy, when their principles were transplanted to the field of polemic, too. Jews were generally accused of treachery and of immoral business activity, while the most frequent charges against the Christians concern their sexual behavior, immorality e. Nuns, friars and priests were exposed to vehement attacks — the most common accusation against them was fornication.
Having summarized the subject-matter of medieval polemical writings, first let us consider the attitude of early modern authors toward the sacred tradition. There are two striking features which immediately alert us. Of course, we have been witnessing an ongoing non-verbatim interpretation of the biblical text in Jewish literature since Antiquity, we need only think of the acronym used to paraphrase this polymorphism of the sacred text PaRDeS in the Middle Ages, or its most noticeable application in the Bible commentary of Bahya ben Asher d.
Notwithstanding, on approaching the early modern period, a tangible change of attitude can be felt. To illustrate, on pages 2—3 in his Pilpul al-zeman, zemanim, zemanehem Jonah Rapa,91 portrayed the gluttony and moral laxity of Christian society during the festivity of the carnival with quotations taken from the book of Psalms and Daniel. We need not forget that the author who concerns us lived in the generation after Baruch Spinoza —!
His critical attitude toward every religious tradition was a typical early modern attitude, not felt, or at least, not so explicitly in the Middle Ages. We can easily multiply the examples including other portions of the "sacred tradition", too. To illustrate, the gormandizing of his Christian adversaries during the carnival Jonah Rapa not only appropriated Biblical verses, as mentioned before, but he utilized some technical terms generally used in Rabbinic hermeneutics or halachah, e.
Ribbuy — which originally means inclusion of another term, not mentioned in the text to be explained, in the explanation of a problem — is used here verbatim as "multiplying" some delicate food during the binge, shinnuy94 as "change" of various kinds of drinks on the tables.
Or, to cite the most conspicuous example to illustrate his "language game", our author uses the term pilpul in the title of his book. Pilpul means in the rabbinic dialectics a penetrating, comprehensive and usually lengthy analysis of a problem, in order to be able to make a clear- cut solution to the question under discussion. Pilpul in the title of Jonah Rapa's book is nothing, but a joke, because he analyses the Christian holidays zeman, zemanin, zemanehem in his book at length, it is true, but — unlike the rabbis — in a humorous, satirical way, the sole purpose of it is to make his audience laugh.
Asham Talui means in the rabbinic dictum a conditional guilt-offering, "to be offered when you are in doubt as to the commission of a sinful act. The custom of changing a person's name, as a tribute to his achievements, or as a sign that his condition will be improved, or particularly as an aid to his recovery from illness.
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Jastrow: The text of the Pilpul, nevertheless, follows faithfully the order of the Passover liturgy, called Haggadah of Pessah. In the longer version of the text96 every paragraph of the original liturgical text is easily recognizable, because the first word or phrase of the original text is left in the new version, too.
Of course, the original text of the Haggadah is replaced with a biting satire on the way of life and beliefs of the Christian society. Here again, as mentioned before, making fun of the religious feeling of his Christian neighbors, using thereby religious terms of his own, makes Judaism ridiculous, too. The cases cited above, emphasize the changing attitude of a new era toward an old tradition.
Our authors did not feel bound by any religious authority. They freely and overtly criticize the religious tradition of the foes, declaring war, at the same time, on their own tradition, too. People, Jews and non-Jews alike, in this new age did not look for the verification of the sacred writings any more than their predecessors did in the Middle Ages. Rather, they questioned — albeit often in implicit ways — the credibility of all kinds of revealed text. In this new approach — calling into question the sacred tradition — Jews and non-Jews, philosophically educated scholars and less sophisticated preachers, went hand in hand, creating thereby a new cleavage, but this time not between the members of the Jewish minority and the Christian majority, but between the more traditionally minded and the more rationalistic members of two communities.
Robert Bonfil in a very stimulating article showed how the emerging new intellectual trend in our era, namely the kabbalah drew new boundaries within the Jewish society. Polemical texts, in a paradox way, and perhaps despite the intended will of their authors, reshaped the cultural landscape, too, creating a sense of community between different strata of the minority and the majority societies.
David B. Ruderman in his outstanding culture-historical introduction to the early modern period enumerated the decline of Rabbinic authority as a conspicuous sign of the transition from the Middle Ages to modernity. The examples, mentioned so far, confirm the truth of Ruderman's statement, and seem to belong to the early modern period in every way. The incident — starting as a simply scientific discussion, later approaching the worst point of Medieval polemical tradition, involving the religious conviction, even the personalities of the interlocutors — took place in public between and The presence of the vernacular in Jewish polemical writings, not attested in the Middle Ages outside the Arabic- speaking area, raises further questions to be answered.
See Bonfil The protagonists were, on one side, a Jewish physician, Raffaelo Rabeni — and, on the other side, a Christian Hebraist, Biagio Garafolo — What really might interest us first is the subject-matter of the controversy. Garafolo, basing his arguments on the views of an eminent French Biblical scholar of his day, Jean Le Clerc — , claimed that the Hebrew language was not suitable for creating metrical poetry.
Further, following in the footsteps of Spinoza, he discredits the reliability of the Masoretic vocal system of the Bible. Rabeni tried to disprove Garafolo's argument. The wrangling went on for four years. Finally, backed up effectively by the editors of the journal, Garafolo got the upper hand. The presence of the Scriptures during the entire discussion is obvious, but on a very different level than in the texts of the medieval polemics. Notwithstanding, the approaches of the interlocutors changed considerably.
The representative of the modern approach is Garafolo, for him the Bible means nothing more than a scientific object worthy of critical study, while the point of view of Rabeni wavers between scientific perspective and pious devotion — a typical feature of many early modern authors. Despite the pronounced scientific outlook of both authors the debate increasingly gives way more and more to polemic Moreover, the Rabeni-Garafolo incident has another lesson in store. Considering the argumentative arsenal of the protagonists, its formerly unimaginable complexity cannot be left unmentioned.