The ban placed by the community of Barcelona on the study of philosophy and allegorical preaching - A new study

Ram Ben-Shalom*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


The ban on philosophical studies imposed by Solomon ben Adret in 1305 was the acme of a long controversy between the philosophical camp and their opponents in Provence and Spain. One recent theory assumes that Ben Adret initially imposed the ban on the Jewish communities of Spain and Provence but soon changed his mind, claiming that the ban was local and had been imposed only on the community of Barcelona. It has also been claimed that his change of heart was a consequence of the political relationships between France and Aragon and the crucial question of jurisdiction over Provencal Jewry. The current article reexamines the affair of the ban through close analysis of the letters published by Abba Mari of Lunel in his work, "Minhat Qena'ot" and reaches new and different conclusions. It opens by drawing a clear distinction between two different forms of the ban. The first ban on philosophical studies was indeed a local ban and thus Ben Adret maintained a consistent position towards it. There was also a second form of the ban on Jewish heresy and Jewish heretics, which was truly general in nature. It is my contention that the change in Ben Adret's position towards this second ban was not the result of his fears of reprisals which might be taken against the Jews of Provence by Philip the Fair, King of France. Instead, Ben Adret's change of mind should be understood in the context of the complex and volatile relationship between the Jews and the Church authorities at the turn of the fourteenth century, and of Ben Adret's fears of Christian involvement in matters of the Jewish faith.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)387-404
Number of pages18
JournalRevue des Etudes Juives
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - 2000
Externally publishedYes


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