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Nahmanides in Medieval Catalonia

History, Community, and Messianism

Nina Caputo

Publication Year: 2007

In this detailed study, Nina Caputo examines conceptions of history and messianic redemption in the writings of the Catalonian rabbi and brilliant Talmudic scholar Nahmanides (1195–1270). An early exponent of kabbalah, Nahmanides was also a shrewd intermediary between the Jewish communities and the royal administration of Aragon. Most intellectual histories focus on Nahmanides in the fairly insular context of Jewish community dynamics, but this volume explores the largely unexamined history of encounters between Jewish and Christian interpretations of history and redemption, as well as the significant role played by Jews in the expansion of the Crown of Aragon during the thirteenth century. Caputo explains Nahmanides' distinctive understanding of the shape and meaning of historical time and change and reveals how his discourse frequently confronted Christian views of history and scripture, sometimes embracing Christians forms, but at other times directly refuting them. Nina Caputo's book is the first to situate Nahmanides in the full intellectual and religious context of thirteenth-century Catalonia. It makes an important contribution to the fields of Jewish studies as well as medieval and early modern history.

Published by: University of Notre Dame Press


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pp. vii-viii

...creative and inspiring people in California (in the departments of history at UCLA and UC Berkeley), Florida (Florida International University and the University of Florida), and Pennsylvania (under the auspices of a Mellon Foundation Fellowship at the Penn Humanities Forum at the University of Pennsylvania). Eleanor Yadin in the Dorot Collection at the New ...

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pp. 1-17

...and messianic redemption in the writings of the Catalonian rabbi, Nahmanides (Rabbi Moses ben Nahman, or Ramban, ca. 1195–1270). A brilliant talmudic and biblical commentator and an early exponent of Kabbalah, Nahmanides was also a shrewd and well-regarded intermediary between the Jewish communities and the royal administration. He has ...

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One-The Maimonidean Controversy: In Defense of Reasonable Faith

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pp. 19-51

...teacher and talmudic scholar, sent a series of circular letters lobbying the rabbis and leaders of Jewish Provence officially to forbid the study of Maimonides’ writings in their communities. Already by the beginning of the thirteenth century, Maimonides’ innovative methods had attracted a large following in Spain and North Africa. By 1225 Hebrew...

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Two-Timely Matters: Nahmanides' Historical Reading of Genesis

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pp. 53-89

...offers an early illustration of his understanding of the interplay between tradition and innovation in the ongoing project of Jewish legal thinking. In the context of this dispute he presented an argument allowing for halakhic innovation suited to contemporary needs and circumstances, but regulated by accepted practice and precedent. The approach to...

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Three-The Barcelona Disputation: Text, Rhetoric, and Cultural Politics

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pp. 91-127

...called upon Nahmanides to face a certain Friar Paul Christiani,1 a convert from Judaism to Christianity, in a public debate at the royal palace in Barcelona. The disputants were to address several questions of immediate consequence to the Jewish claim that their messianic redemption was still imminent. According to the set agenda, Nahmanides ...

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Four-At the Threshold of Redemption: Daniel and Messianic Discourse in Thirteenth-Century Catalonia

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pp. 129-157

Building from the final verses of the book of Daniel, Nahmanides formulated a bold prediction that the messianic age would begin by 5118 (1358 according to the Christian calendar). This argument, which he asserted in his commentary on Genesis, his disputation account, and Sefer ha-Geulah...

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Five-Language and Literature: Nahmanides' Disputation Account and Narrative in the Catalonian Vernacular

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pp. 159-179

Midway through the description of the second day of debate at the Barcelona disputation, Nahmanides interrupted the flow of dialogue and narrative to introduce a surprising narrative digression. In the wake of a heated disagreement between the disputants about whether the Hebrew word yom, or day, must be interpreted literally or symbolically in the...


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pp. 181-258


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pp. 259-312


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pp. 313-317

E-ISBN-13: 9780268076832
E-ISBN-10: 0268076839
Print-ISBN-13: 9780268022938
Print-ISBN-10: 0268022933

Page Count: 328
Publication Year: 2007

OCLC Number: 646196167
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Nahmanides in Medieval Catalonia

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Subject Headings

  • Christianity -- Controversial literature -- History and criticism.
  • Naḥmanides, ca. 1195-ca. 1270. Ṿikuaḥ ha-Ramban.
  • Bible. O.T. Genesis -- Commentaries.
  • Barcelona Disputation, Barcelona, Spain, 1263.
  • Naḥmanides, ca. 1195-ca. 1270.
  • Maimonides, Moses, 1135-1204.
  • Catalan language.
  • Christianity and other religions -- Judaism.
  • Judaism -- Relations -- Christianity.
  • Messianic era (Judaism).
  • Messiah -- Judaism.
  • Naḥmanides, ca. 1195-ca. 1270 -- Language.
  • Judaism -- Apologetic works -- History and criticism.
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