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A Christian and a Jew Debate

In 1263, the king of Aragon allowed Pablo Christiani, a Jewish convert to Christianity, to stage a public disputation in Barcelona with Moses ben Naøman (Naømanides) a philosopher and talmudic scholar.

Naømanides was permitted to speak plainly and without constraint. His arguments against Christianity enraged church officials, and the debate was broken off prematurely. Proceedings against him in the court of the Inquisition led Naømanides to flee Spain. This passage, denying that Jesus was the Messiah, is from Naømanides' account of the debate.





Fra Paulo [Pablo Christiani] then said to me: "Then you do believe that the Messiah has come?" I replied: "No, but I believe and am convinced that he has not come and there never has been anyone who has said concerning himself that he was the Messiah -- nor will there ever be such who will say so -- except Jesus. And it is impossible for me to believe in the Messiahship of Jesus, because the prophet says of the Messiah that "he shall have dominion from sea to sea and from the river until the ends of the earth."

Jesus, on the other hand, never had dominion, but in his lifetime he was pursued by his enemies and hid himself from them, falling finally into their power whence he was not able to liberate himself. How then could he save all Israel? Moreover, after his death dominion was not his. . . .

Moreover the later prophet said that in [the messianic era], "they shall beat their swords into ploughshares . . . nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more." But since the days of Jesus up to the present the whole world has been full of violence and rapine, the Christians more than other peoples being shedders of blood and revelers likewise of indecencies.