Abstract

Abstract:

One aspect of the famed Barcelona Disputation of 1263 that has particularly compelled scholars is Nahmanides' alleged denial of the authority of aggadah. Existing studies of these comments have considered them primarily in light of Nahmanides' treatment of aggadah in his commentary on the Torah. To gain a more accurate understanding of Nahmanides' words in the disputation, this essay offers a distinction between rabbinic exegesis, to which most medieval commentators (including Nahmanides) did not feel beholden, especially when explaining scriptural passages, and rabbinic perspectives on theological concepts, which were typically considered more authoritative, as can be seen in other writings of Nahmanides. A careful reading of each instance of his denial of aggadic material establishes that the passages he disavowed fall in the category of rabbinic exegesis and not rabbinic theological perspective. Nahmanides was thus acting characteristically in denying their authority. Finally, this essay demonstrates that the tone and language used by Nahmanides in his denials can be explained by contextualizing his recording of the disputation in light of the new Christian emphasis on sermons in their missionizing among Jews.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1553-0604
Print ISSN
0021-6682
Pages
pp. 679-701
Launched on MUSE
2020-12-31
Open Access
No
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