top of page
< Back

Church and Synagogue in the Middle Ages: Presidential Address

Dr. James Parkes

<plain_text><page sequence="1">Church and Synagogue in the Middle Ages 1 By the Rev. James Parkes, M.A., D.Phil., D.H.L.fHon.) The conventional picture of the relations between Christians and Jews in the Middle Ages is dominated by the immense disparity in power and numbers between the two groups. Jewry appears as a tiny and dispersed minority, constantly the object of political and economic discrimination, of ecclesiastical hostility and of mob violence, all of which Jews were powerless to resist. In the political and economic fields this picture is true ; and it is useless to attempt to whittle it down by exaggera? ting either the financial power of Jewry or the anecdotes of friendly intercourse even with ecclesiastics of the highest rank. The power of money is severely limited when its owner is not in a position to decide whether to give or to withhold it ; and no friendship with individual ecclesiastics moved the wheels of religious intolerance to reverse their direction for a single moment. Besides, the conventional picture is amply confirmed by the tragic position in which Jewry is revealed at the end of the period. Poverty-stricken, expelled from almost every country of western Europe, their centres of culture destroyed, their numbers reduced by compulsory or semi-compulsory baptisms, carrying the burden of solidarity and of sympathy with the thousands of unwilling and suspect marranos left behind, they would prove, had no document survived of the medieval story, that their experiences in those centuries had been tragic and destructive. But they survived. Fugitives along new roads of exile in Poland, North Africa, and the Levant, seeking new occupations among people materially less advanced and still unfamiliar with the charges western Europe had *aid against them, yet they carried with them a Judaism which, if narrowed and hardened by its experiences, was unimpaired, and a social structure which had weathered all assaults and remained the foundation of their national survival. They survived. It was the powerful medieval Christendom they had left behind which was in ruins. To offer some explanation of this extraordinary paradox is the purpose of this paper. Their survival had no physical explanation. Even if they could profit from the conflicts between different authorities over their possession, and even though the dispersion of their communities often secured them advantages, yet physically they could, without difficulty, have been exterminated from Europe, especially when the brief period of their semi-monopolistic money-lending terminated in the emergence of Christian money-lenders far richer and under far more powerful protection than they had enjoyed. They could have been compulsorily baptized, and their children weaned from the older faith, while those who backslid could have been crushed in the fires of the Inquisition. The Middle Ages were not squeamish, and the massacre of heretics provoked little humanitarian protest. But neither of these fates befell them ; and to approach the reasons for this strange survival we must turn from the political and economic scene to the religious. Once we turn from contemplating Christians and Jews to examining Judaism and Christianity we pass from a picture of two unequal combatants to that of two religious systems confronting each other as equals alike in the profundity and the 1 Presidential address delivered before the Jewish Historical Society of England on 25th October, 1949 25</page><page sequence="2">26 CHURCH AND SYNAGOGUE IN THE MIDDLE AGES scope of their religious thought and in the richness and variety of the way of life which they had evolved. Both religions stem from the experiences of the Jewish people in Palestine up to the period of the Roman domination. They part company when on one side the little group which had come to accept Jesus of Nazareth as Messiah began to explore the formulation of a Christology which would render their experience comprehensible to the Hellenistic world, and in doing so was led into a wild and exaggerated attack on what they understood as " the Law " ; and when on the other side the vast majority of the Jewish people sought in that same " Law 55 a foundation to national survival which would be an effective alternative to their ruined temple and their lost autonomy. For nearly a thousand years the two faiths developed their experiences in isolation from each other. Judaism gradually relaxed its hold on the Greco-Roman world and turned its back on the attempts at a synthesis with Hellenism which had begun in the Wisdom Literature and reached its apogee in Philo and the Alexandrian School. It is significant that all Jewish religious documents in Greek cease within a century of the separation of the two faiths ; and the conclusion is irresistible that one element in this withdrawal was the advancing power of the Christian Church. But the life-lines from the Palestinian patriarchate which had grown more tenuous towards the west, were being strengthened towards the east. In Babylon, free from the influences of both Christendom and the Roman Empire, rabbinic Judaism came to its full stature, and assumed an all-embracing authority over the life of the nation. For Jewry remained a nation, unquestionably a single people, strung out across the inhabited world from China to the Atlantic in a thousand autonomous communities, each of which followed a pattern which all would have found familiar, a pattern voluntarily preserved under its own religious and civil magistrates. None doubted their membership of a single people ; and all were identifiable from outside by the single name of " Jews ". The rich Old Testament conception of God is too unsystematically presented in the Bible to be called a " doctrine ". But in its ready, and indeed unconscious, acceptance of those paradoxes which so puzzled the Greek mind, paradoxes between the finite and the infinite, between a presence which was universal and a local manifestation, between being and becoming, and between eternity and time, it provided an adequate background and foundation to the interests and speculations of the rabbis. They felt no need to probe or to define ; and it remained, unchallenged and unchanged, the background throughout the whole period of the growth of rabbinic Judaism. In place of theology the rabbis concentrated on the tasks of biblical exegesis, and of the ordering of common life according to the will of God, revealed in Torah and interpreted under divine guidance to each succeeding genera? tion. They recognized no clerical caste and, apart from the transitional value of the Palestinian patriarchate, evolved no ecclesiastical hierarchy. Except in Babylon itself their communal affairs were subjected to no hereditary aristocracy, nor any authority based on birth. Though shadowy princes of the house of David enjoyed a dignity of affection and tradition, and the descendants of the cohanim possessed the exclusive right to pronounce a particular benediction, these distinctions were of the accidents, not the substance, of their history. There existed in their communities no distinction of status between a clergy and a laity. They strove rather towards the ideal of an educated democracy, based on an elaborately detailed pattern of social</page><page sequence="3">CHURCH AND SYNAGOGUE IN THE MIDDLE AGES 27 and religious conduct, and a strict code of social and personal morality, firmly cemented by a programme of universal literacy. The growth of the Christian Church presents a picture equally rich and fascina? ting in its totality, but different in every single detail of its structure. As with Judaism, it gradually spread its broad mantle over the whole life of the peoples who acknow? ledged its authority and looked to it for salvation. And if, in fact, it had to meet a challenge from within more severe than that experienced by the leaders of Jewry, it must be remembered that its missionary character brought within its sway societies resting on other foundations, and that it had to adapt its political and social structure not only to its own biblical inheritance and the civilization which it had rescued from the failing grasp of the Roman emperors, but also to the rude but dynamic traditions of the peoples of northern and western Europe. In its long struggle for authority, theological uniformity had come to be the weapon on which it placed its chief reliance ; and this conception, so alien to our modern eclectic ways of thinking, was readily accepted by those who acknowledged that in orthodoxy alone lay their eternal salvation. We are no more entitled to sneer at the intensity of the credal warfares which stained the formative centuries of Christianity with rivers of blood, than we are to fling the conventional denunciations of sterility and externalism at the less deadly occupations of the rabbis who spent years in the minute discussion of the ritual of a temple which had perished centuries before. Both alike belonged to a world which few of us can understand to-day ; but both had their place in the upbuilding of the great European civilization which we have inherited. We have only to look at the innumerable volumes of the church fathers to realise that to them no subject equalled in interest and importance that of meta? physical and theological analysis and speculation. Their discussion of those other subjects which interested the rabbis received a treatment which rarely extended beyond generalizations and was often Utopian and perfunctory. On the other hand Christendom evolved an elaborate and comprehensive ecclesiastical system, with an equivalent geographical pattern. Although it was never able to secure the same balance and uniformity of structure in the political world, with a hierarchy from emperor to baron corresponding to that from pope to diocesan bishop, this hierar? chical pattern produced approximately the same effect in stabilizing communal life as did the halachic foundations of rabbinic Judaism. The fundamental distinction lay in the consequences of the belief in the link between orthodoxy and salvation, which created and justified the prerogatives of a clerical order, independent of the political pyramid of authority, and involving a basic superiority of cleric over layman which was particularly manifested in the field of education. During the greater part of the Middle Ages the Church exercised considerable political authority by the mere fact that among clerics alone could be found a literate class capable of exercising all the functions of government from chancellor to clerk of the archives. In spite of this ecclesiastical predominance, medieval Christendom was not an other-worldly society. It possessed a comprehensive philosophy of the State, constantly modified and developed by conciliar action and by canon law, which transformed the disparate societies of the Roman and barbarian traditions into a single Christendom, which in the richness and variety of its life exceeded anything which the world had so far known.</page><page sequence="4">28 CHURCH AND SYNAGOGUE IN THE MIDDLE AGES Up to the threshold of the Middle Ages the two systems had grown up in almost complete isolation from each other. Jewish abandonment of its Alexandrian inter? preters was balanced by Christian ignorance of Hebrew. At the time of their effective meeting in the Middle Ages it might have been expected that they would have come nearer to understanding each other from the fact that Islamic scholars, intoxicated with the infinite capacity for building impressive sounding metaphysics inherent in the Aristotelian syllogism, provided, in the recovery of Greek manuscripts, a founda? tion alike for the rationalism of Maimonides and the scholasticism of Thomas Aquinas. But though the latter even borrowed from the former, with honourable acknowledge? ment of his debt, there is no evidence that Thomas Aquinas thereby acquired any closer knowledge of the nature of Judaism than did the Italian Jewish philosopher, Hillel b. Samuel of Verona (i 220-1295), better appreciate the nature of Christianity by using Thomas's arguments for the immortality of the soul in order to confute the Averroistic tendencies of his Jewish contemporaries. The borrowing was superficial because, in fact, the Aristotelianism of both sides was superficial. The experience of both religions of a God who acted in history was not enriched by the pallid deity of Aristotle ; and those experiences could not be communicated through so slick and superficial a medium as the syllogism. The two religions thus confronted each other, alike in the comprehensiveness of the authority which they exercised over their adherents, and dissimilar on every point on which it could be imagined that two monotheisms, stemming from the same root and worshipping the same God, could differ from each other. One may even say that it was their common origin which rendered them incomprehensible to each other. For neither could understand how the same ingredients could be so differently mixed. This is apparent, more than in any other field, in their amazement at each other's theology. The paradox of the God, complete in himself and at the same time active in history, shows itself in Judaism in an astonishing freedom of expression, which appeared to Christians, who did not say the same kind of things about God, the most blasphemous frivolity and deliberate irreverence. It shows itself in Chris? tianity in the doctrine of the Trinity, which no Jew could believe was anything but tri theism, thinly veiled?if veiled at all. So they confronted each other, with no possibility of accommodation, just because of the comprehensiveness of each. That the physically weaker group could be so comprehensive in its control of its own members it owed to two factors. Before the medieval period there had grown up within Jewry, scattered under a hundred sovereignties, the doctrine that " the law of the land is law " ; and the flexibility both of the thought and the organization of the Jewish community of this period made possible a considerable elasticity of accommodation which allowed all essentials to remain inviolate. But even more it owed its ability to survive to the medieval conception of law. The conception which was universally accepted at that period, and had been inherited from earlier civilizations of both east and west, was not that which is now familiar to us. Laws were not regarded as the bonds which held together a wide variety of people and professions politically united under a single sceptre. Within the very wide limits which would, for example, proscribe murder, adultery, or theft, numerous separate courts of justice and even codes existed side by side within a single political society, even within a single city. Clergy, lawyers, and merchants, city burghers and manorial tenants, ethnic groups such as Flemings, Lombards, or Jews,</page><page sequence="5">CHURCH AND SYNAGOGUE IN THE MIDDLE AGES 29 all enjoyed the possession of their own codes and the jurisdiction of their own courts ; and the validity of this variety of privileges and customs was universally recognized, save when some particular situation or urgent need involved a clash with higher authority, or some blatant injustice aroused popular anger or the jealousy of rivals. Jewry in particular did suffer infringements of its autonomy. Aragonian kings rashly allotted seats in the synagogue to their favourites, the system of judicial autonomy varied from charter to charter, rabbinic literature was censored and destroyed. But at bottom the autonomy had to remain. For medieval man would have found the alternative improper, the alternative that Jews should be treated as Christians and enjoy the rights and duties inherent in acceptance of the orthodoxy on which salva? tion rested. The two religions confronted each other as equals ; and only so can we under? stand that while among a small minority of Christians it might be regarded as a friendly and tolerant equality, among the majority and among those who had executive responsibility, the basic attitude of the Church to the Synagogue was fear ?a fear which was reinforced on each occasion of contact by two simple factors, Jewish literacy and Jewish knowledge of Hebrew. It was said earlier that the survival of Jewry rests on no physical foundation. Yet when we recognize that the basic attitude of the churchmen throughout the period rested on fear, we must ask again why it was that the Church did not make use of her unquestionable superiority in force to annihilate Jewry. To destroy what we fear, if we have the power to do so, is a natural urge. Why did she not make an all-out attack upon the Synagogue ? In the first place she could not make an all-out attack on Judaism theologically. She could damn the Jews for their deicide and abuse them for their blindness. But she could not adopt the easy attitude she adopted to Islam, when she denounced Muhammad as a charlatan and the Quran as a sham. How could she say the same of Moses, whom she honoured equally with the Synagogue, or of the Torah which, as the Old Testament, she included in her divinely inspired Scriptures ? She had to do battle on the much more slippery and subjective terrain of interpretation, and there she had to meet the infuriating Jewish knowledge both of Hebrew and of the text of the Old Testament. From the fascinating thirteenth century anecdotes of meetings between Jews and Christians collected by Joseph ben Nathan, the Official, we can see how skilfully Jews learned to turn the Christian arguments by use of those same Scriptures which the Christians could not attack. Two slight examples will illustrate the point. Christian exegesis liked to use the passage of the Red Sea as a symbol of the passage into a new life by baptism. But, pointed out a Jew who was asked to be convinced by this argument, it was the Egyptians who had received a " baptism " in the water, and as a result they were drowned. The Israelites, who survived, had passed over dry. Again Christians contrasted the length of the present " exile " with that in Babylon. We meet this argument at the very threshold of the Middle Ages round about the year 1000, and at that time it found the Jews in a state of great depression. But in the anecdotes of Joseph, Jews have a complete if daring answer. The first exile was a punishment for the fact that some of the Jews had made wooden and stone images of false Gods. It was natural that a heavier punishment should follow when some of them had identified a man with the true God. So effectively had Jews fortified themselves against arguments based on scriptural quotation that these largely disappear in the Middle Ages from polemic works, though they still</page><page sequence="6">30 CHURCH AND SYNAGOGUE IN THE MIDDLE AGES formed the basis of the conversional sermons Jews were compelled to listen to in their synagogues. But even the scriptural polemics emphasized the weakness of the Christian position. They were inevitably arguments about interpretation. They could not claim that Judaism was a false religion ; but only that Jews interpreted falsely the divine revelation they had received. But a second impediment to an all-out attack occurred in the New Testament itself. The foundation stone of the Christian attitude to Jews and Judaism was St. Paul's epistle to the Romans. And there it was clearly stated that some at least of the Jewish people must survive as Jews until the second coming of Christ. For only then would they be converted. The most important verses are ch. xi, 25 and 26 : " A hardening in part hath befallen Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles be come in ; and so shall all Israel be saved, even as it is written : There shall come out of Zion the Deliverer ; He shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob." It was therefore legitimate that Jews should be kept in subjection and humiliated ; for the sin of deicide merited such treatment; and the spectacle of their continued sufferings reminded Christians of the truth of prophecy. But they could not be annihilated. The sequence of events in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries illustrates the point. The Church, and by that I mean the Papacy, the bishops and the general and local councils, was slower to express its attitude to the Jews than many princes or populaces. Privileges had been given by the one, and Jewish quarters sacked by the other, before the Church issued her rules of conduct ; and before she was ready to do so, the Popes found themselves in the role of protectors of the Jews against violence, whether physical or religious. Letters forbidding them to be either killed or forcibly baptized became an established tradition at the Vatican. When the Church was ready to act, her action admirably illustrated the thesis that the foundation of her action rested on the fear of Judaism and of Jewish influence ; for it was designed firstly to prevent Christians from being in any way in subjection to Jews, or in a position where they would be submitted to Jewish influence; and secondly to isolate the Jewish community from its Christian neighbours. The ghetto only slowly came to be a compulsory segregation ; but the badge, or different Jewish dress, was in force from the fourth Lateran Council of 1215. Throughout the whole period, repeated efforts were made to break intercourse between the two communities ; for even the most godly and pious Christian might be suborned by the subtlety of the Jews. For example a biblical scholar needed Jewish help to inter? pret difficult passages of the Old Testament; and the various medieval attempts to purify and correct the text of the Vulgate, all bear witness to " Jewish influence ". More serious was the possibility that Jews might induce the innocent into heresy ; and in her long battle with heretical movements, even in Roman times, the Church was always tempted to see the hand of Jewry. Actually in the great heresies of the Middle Ages it is difficult to distinguish exactly Jewish religious pressure. It was not unnatural that a prince at enmity with the Church should be friendly towards the enemies of the Church ; and the fact that Provencal or other nobles during the Albigensian period were favourable to Jews does not prove that Jews were behind the Albigensian heresy. Further, where the inquisitors and the orthodox saw the influence of the Jewish community, it might, in fact, have been the influence of the</page><page sequence="7">CHURCH AND SYNAGOGUE IN THE MIDDLE AGES 31 Bible. The pasagii in Italy and the predecessors of the levellers in England were probably influenced by the latter rather than the former. Nevertheless the fear and danger existed ; and when there arose in Spain a substantial Christian community of immediate Jewish origin, and the orthodoxy of these " new Christians " was the subject of serious doubt, the Church was not wrong in believing that Jews would do everything they could to aid these " heretics ". In 1240 the medieval Inquisition inspired a public disputation in Paris over the Talmud ; and from then onwards another line of attack was adopted. Unable to trace Jewish lack of faith to the Bible, or to defeat them over biblical texts, churchmen eagerly took up the question of the Talmud and rabbinic literature. Before the end of the century the Dominicans were training a school of Christian Hebraists?many were of Jewish origin?whose task it was to censor Jewish religious literature in order that Jews might be deprived of arguments against the Christian religion ; and that they might be punished for blasphemies against that religion and its Founder. Though they were instructed in the nature of the Talmud by converted Jews, Christians never grasped the distinction between haggadah and halachah, and this failure had an important influence in another battlefield. Apart from the innumerable private discussions which must have taken place, there were from time to time public disputations which Jews were forced to attend. Their opponent, as in the famous controversy of 1240, was often a convert. In these disputations, and in the written polemics of the time, pages are filled with proofs from Midrashic and Haggadic phrases that the Talmudic scholars taught the doctrine of the Trinity, and that they accepted Jesus of Nazareth as Messiah. Still further pages are filled with denunciations of their puerilities and blasphemies. If these disputations and polemics are thought of as primarily directed to the conversion of the Jews, then they must appear fantastically ill-directed. For no Jew would have had any difficulty in answering them since he was well aware that the rabbis whose discussions fill the Talmud were neither Trinitarians nor Christians, and that in any case neither Haggadah nor Midrash was authoritative. But once we align these works with the policy of protecting Christians from Jewish influence, and recognize them as part of the campaign dictated by the fear of that influence, they become not only comprehensive, but skilful. They were admirably directed to the end of con? vincing the Christian firstly that, even if Jews denied it, Jewish religious literature admitted the truth of Christianity ; and secondly, or alternatively, that Judaism was a puerile and ridiculous superstition often verging on blasphemy. The greatest monument of medieval polemics, the Pugio Fidei (Dagger of the Faith) of Raymund Martini, is only comprehensible from this standpoint. The campaign against the Talmud had more serious effects on Jewry than the ghetto or the badge. For it effectively destroyed Jewish centres of learning by the drastic expedient of burning their libraries. But even more serious were the effects on the more ignorant clergy and the populace of the inculcation from above of this general atmosphere of fear of Judaism and the Jews. It must not be thought that there was any centrally directed or conscious campaign, such as might be created with the instruments of modern propaganda ; it was rather the communication of an atmos? phere, interpreted at each level in the manner of the thinking of the day. The charge of ritual murder and the ritual use of blood came from below, not from above ; and the same was true of most of the accusations which caused such widespread bloodshed in the Jewish communities. The frenzied mobs, which in city after city, country after</page><page sequence="8">32 CHURCH AND SYNAGOGUE IN THE MIDDLE AGES country, sacked Jewish quarters and massacred their inhabitants, drew their force from the imaginings of men like themselves, more than from the pronouncements of popes, bishops, or councils. But it was the language of popes, bishops, councils, and theologians which made their imaginings possible. In the end a whole mythology was built up which Dr. Trachtenberg has admirably illustrated in his book, The Devil and the Jew. While it would be absurd to consider this popular fear of the Jews as a reasoned fear of Judaism and Jewish influence on Christian orthodoxy, it at least served the purpose of those who did possess that fear, in that it contributed to the separation of the two communities ; and it certainly made it less likely that simple men would listen to Jewish religious arguments against their faith, or fall into heresy under Jewish inspiration. None of this is explicable on the basis that the main attitude of the Church was conversionist, and that her main objective was the winning of the Jews to the Christian faith ; and those voices which were raised against popular actions and beliefs, on the basis that they would do little to persuade Jews of the superiority of Christianity or the affection towards them of Christians, were but a tiny if cultured minority. Yet all through the Middle Ages the Church did continue a missionary activity among the Jews, apparently little conscious of the paradox in her behaviour. Special induce? ments were held out to conversion, and from the time of Pope Nicholas III (1277 1280) a definite scheme of preaching was laid down, and Jews were compelled to listen to sermons three times a year in which the merits of the Christian religion were expounded to them. The weakness from which such an activity, however sincerely carried out, inevitably suffered, was that the Christian preacher had nothing new to say, and that Jews had evolved answers to all the biblical points which he could raise. Hence until the time of serious persecution in Spain which followed the missions of Ferrand Martinez in 1391 and of Vincent Ferrer in 1411, and was constant in the fifteenth century, there is extraordinarily little record of conversions. At a time when there was no " racial " feeling, and when a Jew who joined the faith of the majority was saved from the danger of violence as well as the mass of restrictions and humiliations under which his people lived, this is a remarkable fact. It is in itself a support for the thesis that the two religions confronted each other as incom? prehensible equals. Yet this is probably not the whole truth ; and I do not think I can be suspected of" Zionist " propaganda in saying that a very important element in the Jewish ability to stand firm was the belief in a future outside the influence and jurisdiction of Christendom. Beyond was the land of Israel, and the Messianic hope played an important part in the life of medieval Jewry. An event, particularly a religious event, does not necessarily exercise less attractive power for appearing distant. If the incidence of false messiahs be any indication, it is interesting that in the earlier part of the period there were several, and they found widespread credence. In the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries none appeared ; the messianic hope had become dimmed by the hideous drudgery of later medieval life, with its incessant persecutions, and this was the period in which conversions were most numerous. Yet even at the end of the period the mission and its converts play but a minor role in the story ; and the main emphases are different. It is indeed a remarkable picture which emerges, when the expulsion from Spain and Portugal closes this chapter of European and of Jewish life. Physically the Church had won. The Jews had been deprived of their property, robbed of their learned institutions, and harried from land to land. When those of</page><page sequence="9">CHURCH AND SYNAGOGUE IN THE MIDDLE AGES 33 Spain took the long and hard road to exile the last great medieval Jewry was des? troyed, and the Church was triumphant. In the whole of western Europe no Jew could endanger her faith, or pervert her children. That is the physical picture. The religious picture is a total and fantastic contradiction. The Spanish exiles rewrote in Safad among the Galilean hills the text? books of their orthodoxy and their mysticism. The Judaism of Joseph Caro and of Isaac Luria is the direct successor of the Judaism which had entered medieval Europe five hundred years earlier. It was undiminished and unaltered in any detail by the long defensive battle against Christendom. Jewish orthodoxy had indeed lost resilience and flexibility, and was to encounter its own difficulties later from move? ments from within the ghetto itself in eastern Europe and, after emancipation, in Germany and the west ; but it had surrendered nothing to the Christian attack, and abandoned none of the doctrines with which it entered the apparently so unequal fray. With the Christian Church the situation was totally different. Before Caro and Luria had finished rewriting their orthodoxy in Safad, the banner of rebellion against the whole medieval expression of the faith had been raised in Bohemia, in Germany, in England, in Holland, and in Switzerland ; and in that rebellion the unity and authority of medieval Christendom was shattered into fragments. The Reformation had deep roots in European history with which Jewry was in no way concerned. But central in the whole upheaval was the translation into the vernacular and the printing of the Bible ; and it is appropriate that in the new biblical scholarship Jewry, even if indirectly, should have had a hand. It can be traced in many fields. But nothing is more significant than the case of Martin Luther himself. As a biblical commentator he owed a great debt to the work of Nicholas of Lyra, the Franciscan scholar of the early years of the fourteenth century. And Nicholas of Lyra transcribes wholesale the interpretations of Rashi. The expulsion from Spain ends a chapter in Jewish-Christian relations. When the two religions confronted each other again from the period of emancipation onwards, the situation had completely altered. Christendom and Jewry had both become less homogeneous, more diversified. Churches and scholars could differ in their attitude to Jews and Judaism ; the Churches no longer dictated the political and social destiny of Jewish communities ; states could adopt different policies ; and Jews on their side also were conscious of internal differences. In the conflict in the early centuries of the Christian era, neither religion had yet assumed its final form. It is only in the medieval period that the two religions confronted each other as monoliths, each complete, both in its way of life and in the discipline which it exercised over its adherents. E</page></plain_text>

bottom of page