Jewish conversion from the sixth through the twelfth century /
by Jessie Sherwood.
377 leaves.
Microform, Thesis
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dissertation note
Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Toronto, 2006.
general note
Source: Dissertation Abstracts International, Volume: 67-07, Section: A, page: 2706.
Conversions between Judaism and Christianity were rare during much of the Middle Ages, yet they were an important facet of relations between Jews and Christians. This dissertation examines the changing dynamics of Jewish conversion from the sixth through the twelfth century. Among the issues under discussion are forcible baptism, religious identity, returning converts and converts' ability to integrate into Christian society, and also analyzes converts' texts. This thesis makes three, related arguments. It postulates that religious identity remained plastic throughout the early Middle Ages, allowing converts to integrate into their new communities, but became more rigid after the late eleventh century. Secondly, it argues that Christian attitudes toward converts, who returned to Judaism grew less tolerant during the twelfth century. Thirdly, it asserts that using coercion to baptize Jews during the tenth and eleventh centuries became more acceptable in the tenth and eleventh centuries. Where possible it also explores converts' experiences of and explanations for conversion in the context of these changes, arguing that there is often a gap between converts' accounts and Christian expectations. The first chapter studies the precedents left from the early Middle Ages by surveying the legislation governing and the early accounts of conversion. The second chapter investigates the plasticity of religious identity in the tenth and eleventh centuries by examining the extant references to converts, while the third chapter deals with the accounts of compulsory baptism from the tenth and eleventh century. The fourth chapter surveys twelfth-century converts, and the expectations of them articulated in Christian conversion stories. The fifth chapter turns to the texts left by three twelfth-century converts and their understandings of conversion. The sixth chapter addresses the question of adolescent conversion, revising the current assumption that most Jewish converts were adolescent males. Finally the seventh chapter examines the changing attitudes toward and treatment of Jewish converts and returning converts in the twelfth century.
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