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Carsten L. Wilke, Budapest

Wilke, Carsten L.

Wilke, Carsten L.

Carsten L. Wilke

This study of the Hebrew treatise Kelimat ha-Goyim (“Shame of the Gentiles,” 1397) by Profiat Duran exemplifies the stimulating impact medieval religious polemics exerted on the scholarly construction of Christian religious history. Besides explaining Jesus in his Jewish context, this Catalan author outlined in detail the emergence of the fundamental Christian dogmas during the apostolic, patristic, and medieval age and searched for the driving forces behind long-term religious transformation. While a common view holds that Duran’s method of New Testament study mirrored thirteenth-century Christian Talmudism, I underscore his originality as a historian of religion, whose clandestinely transmitted text still inspired early modern and nineteenth century attempts at critical scholarship. Duran’s proper context is the contemporary converso problem. A comparison with a Spanish Renaissance text, the Diálogos en Marruecos, strongly suggests that his historical representation of ex-Jews turned into Christian leaders not only addressed conversos, but actually meant to caricature them.

The Marrakesh Dialogues

A Gospel Critique and Jewish Apology from the Spanish Renaissance

Series:

Carsten L. Wilke

In sixteenth-century Marrakesh, a Flemish merchant converts to Judaism and takes his Catholic brother on a subversive reading of the Gospels and an exploration of the Jewish faith. Their vivid Spanish dialogue, composed by an anonym in 1583, has until now escaped scholarly attention in spite of its success in anti-Christian clandestine literature until the Enlightenment. Based on all nine available manuscripts, this critical edition rediscovers a pioneering work of Jewish self-expression in European languages. The introductory study identifies the author, Estêvão Dias, locates him in insurgent Antwerp at the beginning of the Western Sephardi diaspora, and describes his hybrid culture shaped by the Iberian Renaissance, Portuguese crypto-Judaism, Mediterranean Jewish learning, Protestant theology, and European diplomacy in Africa.