In the summer of 1263, Nahmanides (Rabbi Moses ben Nahman, ca 1195-1270), who was Aragon (1213-1276) to debate with a Dominican Friar named Paul about specific claims concerning the Messiah in Judaism and Christianity. Friar Paul had converted from Judaism to Christianity as an adult, so he brought with him some kwledge of rabbinic texts, which he used to challenge the faith of Jews in Provence and rthern Spain. His strategy was entirely invative. Using passages from the Talmud, a foundation of Jewish life in the diaspora claimed that Jewish leaders recognized that Jesus was the messiah. The Barcelona dispuation was an officially sanctioned opportunity for Friar Paul to perform this kind of argument. it was conducted in a public forum at the roayal palace before an audience of Jewish and Christian dignitaries The two disputants, each thoroughly convinced of the indisputable truth of his own religious faith and theological interpretations, argued for his position before a panel of judges headed by James I himself. Nina Caputo's new graphic history tells the story of the Barcelona Disputation from Nahmanides' perspective. By combining the visual power of graphics with primary sources, contextualizing essays, historiography, and study questions, Debating Truth explores issues of the nature of truth, interfaith relations, and the complicated dynamics between Christians, Jews and Muslims in the medieval Mediterranean.
Nina Caputo is an Associate Professor in the Department of History. She received her B.A. and M.A. from the UCLA, and her Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley. Professor Caputo is a scholar of medieval Jewish history and interfaith relations in medieval Europe. She has received fellowships from the Mellon Foundation, the Oxford Centre for Hebrew and Judaic Studies, and the American Philosophical Society. Her first book, Nahmanides in Medieval Catalonia: History, Community, Messianism (2007), explores the history of encounters between Jewish and Christian interpretations of history and redemption. She has also co-editied Faithful Narratives: Historians, Religion, and the Challenge of Objectivity (Cornell, 2014) with Dr. Andrea Sterk. She is currently working on a book that uses Petrus Alfonsi to explore the figure of the convert and conversion in the Christian middle ages and a collection of essays.