Loncat ke navigasi Loncat ke pencarian Pedro Alfonso Pedro Alfonso, juga dikenal sebagai Moshe Sephardi Huesca , Spanyol , - adalah seorang Yahudi Spanyol yang berprofesi sebagai penulis dan ahli astronomi. Dalam kesempatan itu ia mengganti namanya menjadi Petrus Alfonsi "Petrus kepunyaan Alfonso". Pedro Alfonso menuliskan mengenai perubahan religinya itu dalam bukunya Dialogus contra iudaeos, dalam bahasa Latin. Di sini ia menuliskan serangkaian dialog melawan orang-orang Yahudi, dalam suatu dialog antara Mose dan Pedro yaitu Moses Sephardi dan Petrus Alfonsi, artinya dia sendiri sebelum dan sesudah pindah agama.

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Born at an unknown date in the 11th century and an unknown place within Muslim Spain , he embraced Christianity and was baptized at Huesca on St. Petrus was born a Jew while living in al-Andalus , and after he rose to prominence, he converted to Christianity.

This environment gave him an advantageous knowledge of Christianity, Judaism and Islam that would later prove useful in his polemics. His success was due in large part to his ability to bridge several cultures: a Jew from the [Muslim] world of al-Andalus. According to Tolan, Petrus Alfonsi was reared in a society in turmoil: a place of chaos and political instability, where Judaism was in conflict with science, and Islam and Christianity were becoming a larger influence.

His background was conveniently placed in the center of contention between religions and circumstances that surrounded his upbringing, and provided the framework for polemics that would shape Medieval Judaic perception.

Contents [ show ] In England In the Dialogus Alphonsi relates that he traveled to England as magister in liberal arts. He spent several years there. The presence of Alfonsi in the West Country in the years before that date may have contributed to the flowering of Arabic science in that region from the s onwards.

Petrus passed on the Arabic system of astronomical graduation. This work is a collection of oriental tales of moralizing character, translated from Arabic , Persian and Sanskrit. Some of the tales he drew on were from the Panchatantra and Arabian Nights , including the " Sinbad the Sailor " story cycle [5] and " The Tale of Attaf ". The collection enjoyed remarkable popularity, and is an interesting study in comparative literature. It is entitled Disciplina Clericalis A Training-school for the Clergy , and was often used by clergymen in their discourses, notwithstanding the questionable moral tone of some of the stories.

The work is important as throwing light on the migration of fables , and is almost indispensable to the student of medieval folk-lore. Translations of it into French, Spanish, German, and English are extant.

Chapters ii and iii were done into Hebrew and issued under the title, Book of Enoch ,. Friedrich Wilhelm Valentin Schmidt produced a scholarly edition in It became one of the most widely read and used anti-Jewish polemical texts of the Middle Ages, as Tolan shows. Alfonsi wrote the Dialgogues in ; he presents them as a disputation between his former Jewish self Moses and his current Christian self Peter. He divides it into twelve "Dialogues" or chapters: and the first four attack Judaism, the fifth attacks Islam, and the last seven defend Christianity.

Up until the Dialogi contra Iudaeos, the Augustinian tradition was followed in Christendom which allowed relative tolerance to the Jewish people, and for the most part up until this point the attacks on the Jewish people were localized and more importantly, not organized.

There was no document for people to latch on to and group up against the Jewish people. Alfonsi attempted to prove Christianity by disproving Judaism. The difficulty in proving Christianity through the invalidity of Judaism is that the basic tenants of Christianity originate in the Old Testament; if a polemicist proves the Old Testament is invalid, then ipso facto he also proves the invalidity of Christianity.

Petrus attempted to avoid this problem, and refutes Judaism with their own weapons by challenging the Talmud and rabbis. This work presented a point of view contrary to previous Christian philosophy because Christians claimed that the Jews were blindly practicing the Old Law. He believed that they purposely lied in order to conceal their sin of killing Jesus, in spite of the fact that they knew that he was the Son of God.

With this belief, it portrayed the Jews as a people who would eventually see the truth and would ultimately convert to Christianity. This new concept obviously would create a new type of tension between Christians and Jews. The Augustinian tradition afforded Jews in Europe a tolerance throughout the Latin West that was not shared among other religions. This tradition did not place any emphasis on Judaism being heretical, but rather pointed to the fact that the Jews had a pivotal part to play in the spreading of Christianity.

This doctrine was originally written to explain why Jews were not converting to Christianity. Since the Jews were the ones who had kept the law, it would seem logical that they would know whether the savior had come, and this presented a problem within Christian society. Alfonsi attempted to explain this discrepancy by stating that Judaism is heretical, and that the Jewish leaders have knowingly covered up the truth. He made his claim specific to the religion and Jewish leader, but not to the people as a whole.

He did this through pointing out scientific inconsistencies in the belief of Judaism. At this time the Augustinian tradition remained and Christians assumed that the Jews would just progress towards becoming Christians. Although Alfonsi may not have been the man who was forcibly converting Jews, his writings did enable later polemicist to fabricate even bolder claims of the Talmud including that it was satanic.

These new writings and ideals influenced the thought of many others in the Latin West for years to come. Most Christians did not know the contents of the Talmud, and some did not even know of its existence. This lack of knowledge provided a problem for Christians who were trying to prove the superiority of Christianity over Judaism, and they were doing this without even knowing the basics of Judaism. Because Petrus came from Iberia, a place where polemics were initiated from actual dialogue and actual knowledge of rival religions, he was able to bring his Andalusian polemic with his firsthand knowledge of Judaism out of Iberia to Latin Europe, and transform the Latin polemical tradition.

The Dialogi contra Iudaeos represented a turning point in not only polemical strategy, but also the perception of Judaism. What made this particular strategy of polemics so influential was the ability to control the argument legitimately without the need of a second party. Since the argument was between Judaism and Christianity, and Alfonsi was once a Jew and then a Christian, he was able to argue both sides with accuracy.

By arguing against himself in the Dialogi, he was able to set the parameters of the argument without any unforeseen issues from a second party. Petrus was able to make each side say what he wanted; because of this, it was authoritative, and became a damaging piece to the perception of the Jews. The polemics between Moses and Peter seemed to have a friendly tone in their voices, but the arguments that the Dialogi presented were a radically new way to attack Judaism.

It was far more negative than any of the Latin works influenced by the Augustinian tradition. Alfonsi viewed Judaism as a conspiratorial, anti-Christian sect. Because of his knowledge of the Talmud and Judaism, that until then was unprecedented by Christian polemicists, it validated his anti-Judaic position.

This knowledge made him an authority, and allowed some people to begin to question the longstanding Augustinian tradition of tolerance, which was problematic for the Jews on many different levels. This not only became a threat to Jewish communities in creating new contentions between Jews and Christians that had not previously existed, but also Jews had to worry about the possibility of losing their position of tolerance with Christendom. With these new polemical works came the issue of what was the purpose of the Jew.

When the Jews were accused of killing the Son of God, there were three responses given in an attempt to justify why this action was done. The last point Moses makes is that the Jews had a right to kill him because they had a just judgment of Jesus being a magician. Once Moses conceded that Peter was making valid points, he questioned then why the Jews would kill Jesus, because there were many Jews that were known for their wisdom. This is particularly interesting because his polemics demonstrate that the Jewish people were not impenitently heretical but rather misguided by envious rabbis who wanted to retain power over the Jews.

If this was the case, then there was hope for the Christians that the Jews could convert. This perception of the Jews being capable of conversion if they were just enlightened of the truth about the deceitful rabbis was not injurious to the Jews in the immediate future, but rather to Judaism as a whole over a long period of time. These concepts that flipped the Augustinian tradition upside-down laid the groundwork and afforded the language that would enable Christians to persecute the Jews for the purpose of conversion.

According to Christians, once the Jews had discovered the truth that Alfonsi had, they would convert because the truth was self-evident. However, this was not the case and it gave Christians and later polemicist the impetus for developing a culture that would require a new position for the Jews.

Previously Christians would merely peruse the Talmud for inflammatory references to Jesus in order to invoke Christian disdain towards the Jews. When Petrus Alfonsi quoted from the Talmud, he ignored any such slanderous language, and focused on references that would contradict philosophical logic or scientific fact. He showed how science of his day clearly contradicted the Talmudic claim in hopes of discrediting the validity of it being divinely inspired.

He not only had an immense knowledge of Christianity and Judaism, but he was also very well versed in Islam. He was the first Christian polemicist to have a well-rounded knowledge of the Islamic faith. Petrus established in the beginning of the fifth titulus that he was very knowledgeable in Islam, and it is evident that he wanted his readers to know that he had the authority to write about Islam.

Since there was no real polemics about Islam at this time, it was important to make it known to his readers that he had the authority to write about Islam. The fifth titulus in the Dialogi contra Iudaeos dealt specifically with polemics against Islam, and out of all twelve tituluses, the fifth titulus was the only one that mentioned anything of Islam. Tolan argued that the fifth titulus was shorter and less developed than the other anti-Judaic tituluses because he was just trying to convince a Jew of the invalidity of Islam; so there was no need to fully develop this titulus.

Blackman argues differently about the fifth titulus, that it was written to associate Judaism with Islam. The fact that Petrus associated Moses with defending the Islamic faith makes this an argument against Judaism. Petrus does not directly say that this is his reason, but the Dialogi was written for Christians to read, not Jews. The Dialogi portrayed Judaism as defending Islam, so if Petrus could show Islam as invalid, then he could, through association, expose the invalidity of Judaism.

Although Blackman believes that Petrus was motivated in part to write the Dialogi to help explain to Christians why Islam is false, if he really wanted to articulate a complete argument against Islam, he could have written a separate work that was against a Muslim and not a Jew. It seems very illogical for Petrus to write such an extensive work against Judaism, and then write one of the twelve titulus about Islam in the middle of the Dialogi. If the purpose of the fifth titulus is to be against Islam, it does not coincide with anything else in the Dialogi, and it is placed in the middle of it.

He would use a different method of attack against Judaism by associating Judaism with Islam to the Christians. In the start of the fifth titulus, Moses conceded that Peter did not agree with Judaism, but then made the insinuation that Islam is a just religion, and that it is preferred over Christianity. It contains many commands concerning the pleasures of this present life, by which fact divine love is shown to have been greatest toward them… If you should investigate the basis of this law, you will find that it is grounded on an unshakable foundation of reason.

His goal was to create a link in the minds of his readers so that they perceived Judaism and Islam to be synergistically working together against Christianity. Alfonsi never directly made this claim, but rather wanted his readers to think that Christianity was correct, and that opposing religions would work together before ever conceding that Christianity was the valid choice.

He wanted the readers to believe that Judaism is only interested in disproving Christianity, and would even defend Islam if necessary. By equating Judaism with Islam, Alfonsi helped strengthen his argument that Judaism is heretical. As stated earlier, Judaism had enjoyed the benefit of the Augustinian tradition, but by placing Judaism on the same level as Islam, it made Judaism as heretical as Islam.

Petrus was able to come out against Islam in a different way than Judaism because Christianity in no way bases its faith on Islam, so going after its history was the simplest task to accomplish. This was to show the Christian readers that there was no reason to defend Islam, and that anyone who did defend it must be doing so only to attempt to dismantle the validity of Christianity. Although it is not possible to prove with empirical evidence, Blackman believes that Petrus Alfonsi converted to Christianity because he honestly believed that it was right and the most logical choice to make.

His surroundings suggested that his conversion was merely the product of opportunism and chaos, but when one begins to delve into the Dialogi contra Iudaeos it becomes apparent that he deeply believed what he wrote. It is my belief that Petrus supposed that all Jews simply needed to see the truth and that the rabbis were lying out of envy to keep the populace subordinated.

He saw himself in the Jews, and as long as they were being lead by deceitful rabbis, they had no reason to convert. It was this ubiquitous ideal that was his greatest weakness when writing the Dialogi. Although this document was written for Christians, he intended it to help the Christians understand why the Jewish people were not converting. According to Alfonsi, as long as the rabbis of the present day remained in power, they were able to keep the Jewish people from seeing the truth.

This was not the case. Although he was successful in changing the mindsets of the Christians toward the Jews, there was not the desired result of conversion but rather something he was against, a greater persecution of the Jews.


Pedro Alfonso






Disciplina clericalis



The scholar's guide. A translation of the twelfth-century Disciplina Clericalis of Pedro Alfonso,


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