The Insight of Unbelievers
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The Insight of Unbelievers
Nicholas of Lyra and Christian Reading of Jewish Text in the Later Middle Ages

Deeana Copeland Klepper

240 pages | 6 x 9 | 6 illus.
Paper 2008 | ISBN 9780812220216 | $28.95s | Outside the Americas £22.99
Ebook editions are available from selected online vendors
A volume in the series Jewish Culture and Contexts

"A wonderful book—nuanced, lively, vastly erudite. . . . Klepper has given us a look at Nicholas of Lyra that will become a classic study of this most important figure."—E. Ann Matter, University of Pennsylvania
"Klepper's learned book compels us to think again about how medieval Christian culture could rely on Jewish interpretations of the Hebrew Bible when Judaism itself was condemned."—Speculum
In the year 1309, Nicholas of Lyra, an important Franciscan Bible commentator, put forth a question at the University of Paris, asking whether it was possible to prove the advent of Christ from scriptures received by the Jews. This question reflects the challenges he faced as a Christian exegete determined to value Jewish literature during an era of increasing hostility toward Jews in western Europe. Nicholas's literal commentary on the Bible became one of the most widely copied and disseminated of all medieval Bible commentaries. Jewish commentary was, as a result, more widely read in Latin Christendom than ever before, while at the same moment Jews were being pushed farther and farther to the margins of European society. His writings depict Jews as stubborn unbelievers who also held indispensable keys to understanding Christian Scripture. In The Insight of Unbelievers, Deeana Copeland Klepper examines late medieval Christian use of the Hebrew Bible and Jewish interpretation of Scripture, focusing on Nicholas of Lyra as the most important mediator of Hebrew traditions.

Klepper highlights the important impact of both Jewish literature and Jewish unbelief on Nicholas of Lyra and on Christian culture more generally. By carefully examining the place of Hebrew and rabbinic traditions in the Christian study of the Bible, The Insight of Unbelievers elaborates in new ways on the relationship between Christian and Jewish scholarship and polemic in late medieval Europe.

Deeana Copeland Klepper is Associate Professor of Religion and History, and Chair of the Department of Religion at Boston University.

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