a1 University of Judaism
Fragment A2 of MS Or. 53 of the Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale in Rome, though only five folios in length, provides the student of medieval Jewish history with fresh insights into the development of Jewish anti-Christian polemics. The manuscript appears to have been written in response to heightened anti-Jewish propaganda that emerged in Northern France as a result of the visit to that area by Paul Christian in 1269. The work is a compilation of arguments against Christianity drawn from the polemical traditions of Northern France, Germany and Provence. It also contains excerpts from the so-called Vikkua ha-RaMBaN, the Hebrew account of the debate on the Talmud held in Barcelona in 1263. Analysis of the material indicates that the manuscript does not contain the record of a face-to-face disputation between Paul Christian and a Jew named Menaem, as has been suggested. Arguments assumed to be related to such a meeting can be traced back to extant literary sources that predate the 1260s. Of particular interest are the passages from fragment A2 that were adapted from the Sefer ha-berit of Joseph Kimi, written about 1170, and the so-called Vikkua ha-RaDaQ, written in the early thirteenth century. MS 53 A2, written in the last third of the thirteenth century, represents the earliest extant evidence for use of the Kimi and the pseudo-Kimi material in later polemical literature. The appearance of the Provencal Kimi arguments in this Northern French manuscript also points to the movement of traditions from the south into the north and sheds new light on the geographic patterns of cultural development in thirteenth century France. Fragment A2 also contains almost verbatim parallels to anti-Christian criticism found in Nizzachon vetus, including traces of German linguistic influence.