Religious Disputation in the Middle Ages (contd.)
Title page, from: Judah ha-Levi (1075-1141), Sepher ha-Kuzari (Book of the Khazars), ed. by Joan de Gara, Venice, 1594
Judah ha-Levi’s Book of the Khazars (written 1140) imagines the Khazar conversion to Judaism. The Khazar king brought each religion to present its case—the Jewish religion won and the entire kingdom became Jewish. The K hazar Empire was a real Jewish kingdom in the 7th-11th centuries between the Black Sea and Caspian Sea. The book was widely read by Jews and Christians.
In the Middle Ages, many Christian scholars, monks, and preachers debated with Jews in order to convert them, but rarely won these arguments. They read the Talmud (usually in Latin translation by Nicholas of Lyra) in order to do better in debates against Jews.