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19 A Short Note on the Doctrina Jacobi nuper baptizati

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Chapter Summary

After his reconquest of Jerusalem from Persians in the year 630 CE, the Byzantine emperor Heraclius (610-641) issued an order for compulsory baptism of the Jews in his empire. As a result of that understandable fear, Christian scholars began to instruct their coreligionists how Jews, after their compulsory baptism, could be talked out of their old beliefs and practices and be made sincere believers. A Christian document Teaching of Recently Baptized Jacob (Doctrina Jacobi nuper baptizati) written in late 630s or early 640s, in which one finds a fictional report of an internal Jewish debate about the credibility of the new faith that they have been compelled to adopt. The story, which is purportedly told by a newly baptized Jew named Joseph. This chapter outlines the contents and then raises the question of what we can learn from this text about the situation of the Jews in that crucial period.

Keywords: Byzantine emperor Heraclius; Christian; compulsory baptism; Doctrina Jacobi nuper baptizati; Jews; Teaching of Recently Baptized Jacob



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