On this day:
1240 – At the instigation of Louis IX of France, an inter-faith debate, known as the Disputation of Paris, starts between a Christian monk and four rabbis.
The Disputation of Paris, also Trial of the Talmud took place in 1240 in the court of the reigning king of France, Louis IX (St. Louis). It followed the work of Nicholas Donin, a Jewish convert to Christianity, who translated the Talmud and pressed 35 charges against it to Pope Gregory IX by quoting a series of blasphemous passages about Jesus, Mary or Christianity. Four rabbis defended the Talmud against Donin’s accusations.
As part of its evangelistic efforts, the Church sought to win the beliefs of the Jews through debate. Western Christianity in the 13th century was developing its intellectual acumen, and had assimilated the challenges of Aristotle through the works of Thomas Aquinas. In order to flex its intellectual muscle, the Church sought to engage the Jews in debate, hoping that these Jews would see the intellectual superiority of Christianity and convert.
Paul Johnson states a significant difference between the Jewish and Christian sides of the debate. Christianity had developed a detailed theological system. The teachings were clear, and therefore vulnerable to attack. Judaism had a relative absence of dogmatic theology. Judaism did have many negative dogmas, mainly to combat idolatry. Judaism did not, on the other hand, have a developed positive theology. “The Jews usually avoided the positive dogmas which the vanity of theologians tends to create and which are the source of so much trouble… the Jews had a way of concentrating on life and pushing death—and its dogmas—into the background.”
The debate started on the 12 June 1240, Nicholas Donin represented the Christian side. He was a member of the Franciscan Order and a Jewish convert to Christianity. He had translated the Talmud and pressed 35 charges against it to Pope Gregory IX by quoting a series of blasphemous passages about Christianity. There is a Talmudic passage, for example, where someone named Jesus is sent to Hell to be boiled in excrement for eternity, while someone named Mary, whom Donin identified as Mary, the mother of Jesus, is considered as a harlot. Donin also selected injunctions of the Talmud that permit Jews to kill non-Jews, to deceive Christians and to break promises made to them without scruples.
The Church had shown little interest in the Talmud until Donin presented his translation to Gregory IX. “It seemed to have been news to the Pope” that the Jews relied on a book other than the Torah and which contained blasphemies against Christianity. This lack of interest also characterized the French monarchy which until the 1230s chiefly considered the Jews as a potential source of income.
Four of the most distinguished rabbis of France, Yechiel of Paris, Moses of Coucy, Judah of Melun, and Samuel ben Solomon of Château-Thierry, represented the Jewish side of the debate.
The terms of the disputation demanded that the four rabbis defend the Talmud against Donin’s accusations that the Talmud contains blasphemies against the Christian religion, attacks on Christians themselves, blasphemies against God, and obscene folklore. The attacks on Christianity were from passages referencing Jesus and Mary. There is a passage, for example, of someone named Jesus who was sent to Hell to be boiled in excrement for eternity. The Jews denied that this is the Jesus of the Bible, stating “not every Louis born in France is king.”
Hyam Maccoby gives his opinion that the Jewish representatives in the Paris disputation were less than forthcoming. There are ancient Jewish polemics against the Jesus of Christianity such as the Toledot Yeshu, and the Jesus who was portrayed in the Talmud fits that portrayal. Among the obscene and odd folklore, there are passages that Og of Bashan was a giant. There is also a story that Adam copulated with each of the animals before finding Eve. Noah, according to the Talmudic legends, was castrated by his son Ham. It was common for Christians to equate the religion of the Jews with the Israelite Mosaic Faith of the Old Testament. The Church was therefore surprised to realize that the Jews had developed an authoritative Talmud to complement their understanding of the Bible. Maccoby believed that the purpose of the Paris disputation was to rid the Jews of their belief in the Talmud, in order that they might return to Old Testament Judaism and eventually embrace Christianity.
The hostility of the Church during this disputation may have had less to do with the Church’s attitude and more to do with the Christian proponent, Nicholas Donin. The style of Donin’s argumentation exploited controversies that were debated within Judaism at the time. Maccoby also suggests that the disputation may have been motivated by Donin’s previous affiliations with the Karaite Jews, and that Donin’s motivations for joining the Church involved his desire to attack rabbinic tradition.
A commission of Christian theologians condemned the Talmud to be burned and on June 17, 1244 twenty-four carriage loads of Jewish religious manuscripts were set on fire in the streets of Paris. The translation of the Talmud from Hebrew to non-Jewish languages stripped Jewish discourse from its covering, something that was resented by Jews as a profound violation.
The translation of the Talmud changed the Christian perception about Jews. Christians viewed the Jews as the followers of the Old Testament, who honoured “the law of Moses and the prophets”, but the Talmud’s “blasphemies” indicated that the Jewish understanding of Old Testament differed from the Christian understanding.
Louis IX, who sponsored the debate, stated that only skilled clerks could conduct a disputation with Jews but that laymen should plunge a sword into those who speak ill of the Christ.
Born on this day:
1827 – Johanna Spyri, Swiss author (d. 1901)
Johanna Louise Spyri (née Heusser; German: [joˈhana ˈʃpiːri]; 12 June 1827 – 7 July 1901) was a Swiss-born author of novels, notably children’s stories, and is best known for her book Heidi. Born in Hirzel, a rural area in the canton of Zurich, Switzerland, as a child she spent several summers near Chur in Graubünden, the setting she later would use in her novels.
In 1852, Johanna Heusser married Bernhard Spyri. Bernhard was a lawyer. Whilst living in the city of Zürich she began to write about life in the country. Her first story, A Note on Vrony’s Grave, which deals with a woman’s life of domestic violence, was published in 1880; the following year further stories for both adults and children appeared, among them the novel Heidi, which she wrote in four weeks. Heidi is the story of an orphan girl who lives with her grandfather in the Swiss Alps, and is famous for its vivid portrayal of the landscape.
Her husband and her only child, named Bernard, both died in 1884. Alone, she devoted herself to charitable causes and wrote over fifty more stories before her death in 1901. She was interred in the family plot at the Sihlfeld-A Cemetery in Zürich. An icon in Switzerland, Spyri’s portrait was placed on a postage stamp in 1951 and on a 20 CHF commemorative coin in 2009.
In April 2010 a professor searching for children’s illustrations found a book written in 1830 by a German history teacher, Hermann Adam von Kamp, that Johanna may have used as a basis for Heidi. The 1830 story is titled Adelheide – das Mädchen vom Alpengebirge—translated, “Adelaide, the girl from the Alps”. The two stories share many similarities in plot line and imagery. Spyri biographer Regine Schindler said it was entirely possible that Johanna may have been familiar with the story as she grew up in a literate household with many books.
The following is a list of her main books:
Erick and Sally (1921)
Gritli’s Children (1885)
Moni the Goat-Boy (1897)
Rico and Wiseli (1885)
The Story of Rico (1882)
Toni, the Little Woodcarver (1920)
Uncle Titus and His Visit to the Country (1913)
Veronica And Other Friends (1886)
What Sami Sings with the Birds (1917)
Vinzi: A Story of the Swiss Alps (1923)
Her books were originally written in German. The translations into English at the end of the 19th century, or the early 1900s, mention H. A. Melcon (1839-1910), Marie Louise Kirk (1860-1936), Emma Stelter Hopkins, Louise Brooks, Helen B. Dole and the couple Charles Wharton Stork and Elisabeth P. Stork.
by Vulcaman: 10€ BICYCLE USB CHARGER