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Katarzyna K. Starczewska


The aim of this article is to present a set of glosses to the Qurʾān written by the sixteenth-century Spanish convert Juan Gabriel and to analyze them in the context of apologetic argumentation. The glosses come from a translation commissioned by Egidio da Viterbo (1518). I present here the index of topics covered by the glosses and argue for their conciliatory character. I also select glosses that focus on the identity of Abraham and compare them with annotations that appear in other Latin translations of the Qurʾān. The conclusion of this study is that, although there was a tradition in Latin Europe of glossing the Qurʾān in particular places, for example in passages where biblical figures are mentioned, Juan Gabriel used this tradition to present Islam as compatible with Christianity rather than a heresy.

Ana Echevarría


This article presents the Responsio in quaestione de muliere sarracena transeunte ad statum et ritum iudaicum (1451) by Alonso Fernández de Madrigal, “El Tostado” (1410–55), as a rich source for the study of conversion across minority groups. A trial conducted before the archbishop of Toledo concerning a Muslim woman turned Jew by her lover in Talavera de la Reina (Spain) caused a scandal in Christian society. As one of the most outstanding legal scholars at the University of Salamanca, Madrigal established the right of the archbishop of Toledo to judge an issue involving the two minorities and decided in favor of the woman returning to her faith of origin, instead of imposing the death penalty. While conversion superseded issues of illicit sexual relations, gender acted as a mitigating circumstance. This article will also consider how the three communities contributed to the survival of “cohabitation,” defined by Madrigal as social peace, and the preservation of the status of the different religions living together in Castile.

Gad Freudenthal


This paper argues that as a result of the competition over patients between Jewish and Christian doctors in the Midi (twelfth–fourteenth centuries) Jewish doctors were more prone than other Jewish intellectuals to acquaint themselves with Christian culture (and also to convert). In this respect, the massive Latin-into-Hebrew cultural transfer in medicine contrasts with the slight Latin-into-Hebrew cultural transfer in philosophy (until the end of the fourteenth century). Jewish doctors were able to keep up with Latin medicine, even at times of rapid change, often through Latin-into-Hebrew translations.

To illustrate and sustain the general claims I look closely at a few figures: the anonymous Jewish doctor who called himself “Doeg the Edomite” and who, in the closing years of the twelfth century, translated into Hebrew twenty-four books of theoretical and practical medicine, mainly from the Salerno corpus; and Leon Joseph of Carcassonne, whose remarkable preface to his translation of Gerard de Solo’s Pratica super nono Almansoris (1394). I analyze in detail as an eyewitness report of a participant observer. His trajectory is comparable to that of Moses ben Samuel of Roquemaure (Jean, or Juan, of Avignon).

Rosa M. Rodríguez Porto


This article offers a preliminary survey of the miniatures illustrating the Biblia romanceada held at the Escorial Library under the shelf number I.I.3, whose precise date and provenance have been a matter of dispute among scholars for decades. The scrutiny of the stylistic features of these illustrations together with a reassessment of the scarce archival sources related to this work allows for a definite association of Escorial, MS I.I.3 with Enrique de Guzmán, 2nd Duke of Medina Sidonia (d. 1492). However, the contextualized analysis of this lavishly decorated manuscript—which was part of a trend in aristocratic patronage and the epitome of already established traditions in Bible illustration—may contribute not only to a re-appraisal of this singular work but also to a better understanding of the multifaceted phenomena lying behind the production and reception of the remaining fifteenth-century illustrated Bibles in the vernacular, all of them translated from Hebrew but intended for a Christian audience.

Volume-editor Mercedes García-Arenal, Gerard Wiegers and Ryan Szpiech

John Tolan


On March 4th, 1233, in his bull Sufficere debuerat perfidie Iudeorum, Pope Gregory IX complains to the bishops and archbishops of Germany of the many “perfidies” of the German Jews, including their “blasphemies” against the Christian religion, which, he fears, may have an ill effect on Christians, particularly converts from Judaism. He orders the bishops to prohibit Jews from presuming to dispute with Christians and to prevent Christians from participating in such disputations through ecclesiastical censure.

Gregory clearly thought that it was dangerous to allow informal discussions or debates about religion between Jews and Christian laymen. At the same time, he was instrumental in the promotion of the two new mendicant orders and in the encouragement of their missionary efforts towards Jews (and to a lesser extent Muslims). Over the course of the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, the Dominicans in particular became specialists of religious disputation. Laymen were increasingly discouraged or prohibited from engaging in such disputation by both ecclesiastical and royal legislation.

This article will examine several key texts involving the dangers of interreligious debate and discussion in the Middle Ages from the perspective of Christian authorities (ecclesiastical, royal or other). Various authors, from Tertullian to Joinville, expressed misgiving about the effects such debate could have on Christian participants and bystanders, and various medieval legal texts, civil and canon, sought to limit or prohibit such debate.

Eleazar Gutwirth


The background to this paper is the difference between occasionally atemporal and multinational approaches and local, historical approaches to religious ideas and encounters. The chosen example is that of two authors from one town (Arévalo) and one historical moment (fifteenth-century Castile). The article attempts firstly to identify stylistic, rhetorical, and literary elements in the historiographic traditions about the reputation of the town. Secondly it points to the changes in the status of the town in the late Middle Ages that affected Christians, Muslims, and Jews. Thirdly, after identifying certain tendencies in the writings of the two authors from the town, one Muslim (known as the Mancebo de Arévalo) and the other Jewish, Rabbi Yosef ibn Ṣaddiq de Arévalo, it searches for affinities and common elements in their attitudes.

Yonatan Glazer-Eytan


The Hebrew inscription in the Piedat attributed to Bartolomé Bermejo is usually viewed in relation to the possible involvement of conversos in the painting. Offering a broader exploration of the local setting as well as the visual and textual models available to Bermejo, this article goes beyond a narrow converso interpretation and situates the inscription within two different contexts: an environment of growing Christian interest in Hebraic knowledge and an Aragonese artistic experimentation with the iconography of the Man of Sorrows.

Maria Laura Giordano


This paper analyzes a little-studied aspect of Bishop Alonso de Cartagena (1485–56): that of a theologian embroiled in a polemic dispute with Pero Sarmiento and Marcos García de Mora, organizers of the Toledan anti-converso riots of 1449. In this dispute, Cartagena demonstrates a formidable dialectic force, which he develops in his treatise Defensorium Unitatis Christianae. His theological discourse would become a battleground in which, Bible in hand, he revealed the belligerent, irrational and, at the same time, ideological and heretical nature of his adversaries’ arguments.

Cartagena represents the critical conscience of the conversos of his time and epitomizes an ambitious and valiant Christian humanism in his attempt to save the unity of Christian society from the cultural and social rift the Toledan crisis clearly embodied. His originality lies in having understood the importance of language as a medium and, therefore, the need to neutralize the “virus” inside it: the preconceived and artificial conceptions that the Toledo rebels had of conversos.

Furthermore, his assertion that the papacy should maintain full control of the punishment of heretics led him to suggest repeatedly to John II of Castile that matters of faith did not concern the civil authorities.

His role as a theologian reveals itself in his decisive contribution to the expression of a new religious identity: that of the conversos, who thanks to him, began to familiarize themselves with theological concepts such as justification by faith and works such as the Beneficium Christi, which would later play a role in the Spanish and European religious crisis of the sixteenth century.