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Latin into Hebrew and the Medieval Jewish-Christian Debate

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Chapter Summary

This chapter examines the polemics as an incentive for Jews to study Latin and then turn to the specific use of the Latin language in medieval Jewish polemical treatises. Thus an examination of Jewish polemical works, with their use of Latin terms and texts, indicates that the Jewish-Christian debate was a major motivation for Jewish knowledge of Latin in the High Middle Ages. In the chapter, the author suggests two major reasons for the use of Judeo-Latin in Jewish polemical treatises: first to add authority to the argument; second, to clarify Christian theological terms for which there was no satisfactory Hebrew equivalent. The comments in the chapter are intended to illustrate one aspect of Christian linguistic cultural transference, namely, the important role of polemic as an incentive for Jewish acquisition of mastery of Latin.

Keywords: Hebrew; High Middle Ages; Jewish polemical treatises; Jewish-Christian debate; Judeo-Latin



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