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22.06.21 Magoga, Ruperti Tuitensis Anulus seu dialogus de sacramentis fidei

22.06.21 Magoga, Ruperti Tuitensis Anulus seu dialogus de sacramentis fidei

In 1126 Rupert of Deutz wrote his Anulus seu dialogus de sacramentis fidei (“The Ring, or Dialogue on the Sacrament of Faith”) in the form of a disputation between a Christian and a Jew. The genre of disputations was a Latin didactic format that allowed differences of opinion to be clearly set out in what were for the most part fictitious discussions. According to the prefatory letter, Rupert wrote his disputation at the request of an abbot whose name began with R. There is unanimity amongst modern scholars that he was Rodulf, abbot of Saint-Trond and St. Panthaleon at Cologne, who had been a student-contemporary of Rupert at the monastery of St. Lawrence at Liège. In 1126 the two men were therefore old acquaintances when as abbots of Benedictine monasteries they lived more or less as neighbours in the vicinity of Cologne: Rupert at St. Heribert at Deutz and Rodulf at St. Panthaleon in Cologne on the opposite side of the River Rhine. Both abbots were learned men living at a time when the relationship between Christians and Jews became redefined due to increasing self-awareness among Christian intellectuals that they had to be seen as defenders of their faith against Jewish opinions that aspects of Christian dogma were incomprehensible and indefensible: the concepts of the Trinity, the Virgin Birth, the Incarnation, and Transubstantiation. Given the proximity of communities of Jews living in predominantly Christian urban centres in the Rhineland, it was inevitable that differences in faith were a subject of discussion in Jewish and Christian learned circles. Both Rupert and Rodulf are known to have had discussions about their faith with local Jewish men and women, some of which presumably informed their respective works.

Rupert of Deutz’s Anulus is divided into three parts. The first centres on circumcision and baptism and explains that salvation does not come from circumcision but from faith. After the coming of Christ, Rupert argues that the practice of circumcision is unnecessary as it is a denial that the Messiah has come. The Jews hate non-Jews and their hatred blinds them for the real meaning of the Old Testament. The first part ends with Rupert’s use of Luke’s parable of the prodigal son (Luke 15, 11-32). He urges the disputation’s Jew not to be like the older brother in the biblical story who refused his father’s invitation to join in the feast he had prepared for his younger brother. Rupert holds out to the Jew the ring the father had given the younger son for whom the feast was prepared. This ring of faith is the ring of the disputation’s title. The second part is centred on the meaning of the Law of Moses where Rupert explains that God did not desire the Jewish sacrifices imposed by this law. The only sacrifice that will please God is that of the Eucharist, which the Jews reject. In the third part Rupert discusses the issue of idolatry by rejecting the Jewish accusation that by worshipping Jesus at the cross Christians engage in idolatry. He closes the disputation with another invitation that the Jew receive the ring, the sign of faith (signaculum fidei). This last section on the cross is important evidence for Rupert of Deutz’s own devotion to the cross and to Christ suffering on it.

The present edition of Rupert’s Anulus is a welcome addition to the prestigious Brepols series, the Corpus Christianorum continuatio mediaevalis. This edition replaces the first critical one by Dom Rhaban Haacke, Benedictine monk of Siegburg, in 1976. He used Cambrai BM 410 (siglum A), a twelfth-century manuscript, as well as Admont Stiftbibliothek MS 443 (siglum B) copied between 1138-1165 during the abbacy of Gotfried of Vemmingen, as the nearest textual witnesses to the author’s text. He believed that a second early manuscript listed in the thirteenth-century library catalogue of Admont had been lost. Recently this second Admont manuscript, dating to the twelfth century, has been identified as Admont Stiftsbibliothek MS 517 (siglum M), and as an even more significant textual witness to Rupert’s original text, it is used here as the base manuscript. According to the present editor Alessio Magoga, the reconstructed stemma of manuscripts in fact shows two branches of textual development, each of which goes back to an apograph of Rupert’s original text--one as the Vorlage of A, and the other of M and all other remaining manuscripts including B. The reconstruction of the stemma is entirely convincing though the question whether some of the early divergences in vocabulary between the two apographs (listed on pp. 139-146) might have been the result of authorial intervention, perhaps revision, remains unanswered. The geographical spread of the manuscripts (surviving and lost) shows a readership that already in the twelfth century was confined to the Holy Roman Empire with one cluster centered on the Lotharingian triangle of the Meuse and Rhine valleys (St. Trond, Liège, Cologne, Liesse and, slightly further west, Cambrai), while the other can be found in the south-eastern regions of Germany (Bavaria and Austria). This distribution remains unaffected even when references to readership of the Anulus in works by later authors who cited Rupert are taken into account. These two broad geographical regions were regions where Jewish communities were prevalent. On this evidence the lack of readership of Rupert’s Anulus in north-western Europe is interesting as Jews were living in England, Normandy and northern France where other disputations between Jews and Christians were written. Perhaps the dearth of readers of Rupert’s Anulus in these regions can be partly explained by the contents of the disputation.

The editor’s introduction is mostly based on the scholarship of Rupert of Deutz by John van Engen (ground-breaking) and that of his doctoral student D. E. Timmer at Notre Dame (USA) and of M. L. Arduini at Milan dating from the late 1970s and 1980s. A curious omission in Magoga’s evaluation of Rupert of Deutz’ Anulus seems to me the equally important work by Anna Sapir Abulafia at Cambridge and Oxford. Since the 1980s she has revolutionised our thinking about the relationship between Christians and Jews in the Central Middle Ages. Her article “The Ideology of Reform and Changing Ideas Concerning Jews in the Works of Rupert of Deutz and Hermannus Quondam Iudeus,” originally published in 1993 and then reprinted in her Christians and Jews in Dispute. Disputational Literature and the Rise of Anti-Judaism in the West (c. 1000-1150), Variorum Collected Studies Series 1998, is a regrettable omission. Arduini and Timmer see in Rupert’s Anulus a mixture of influence from the rational thinking of Anselm of Bec and Canterbury as well as the medieval tradition that stressed biblical authority. In contrast, Anna Abulafia compellingly argues that Rupert, unusually for his time, sticks exclusively to the latter. We might postulate that for this reason readers in the Anglo-Norman realm and adjacent northern French territories ignored Rupert’s disputation. Furthermore, the historical cohabitation of Jews and Christians in the Rhineland towns and the influence on Christian thinking, as set out by Abulafia in her book Christian-Jewish Relations, 1000-1300. Jews in the Service of Medieval Christendom (2011), is essential background for an understanding of Rupert of Deutz’s text, not least because it gives context to an important critique on Rupert of Deutz’s Anulus from the pen of Abbot Rodulf of St. Panthaleon at Cologne, written in response to it in 1126 or 1127. He wanted further proof of the unity of the Trinity as well as more on Genesis 49:10, the text which, according to Christians, revealed that they and not the Jews were God’s chosen people. This last point was raised by F. W. E. Roth in an important article in Deutsches Archiv 17 (1992) seemingly not consulted for the present edition. That contemporaries considered Abbot Rodulf’s letter to Rupert, pointing out omissions in his treatise, as an important addition to the thinking about Jews in the Rhineland is shown by the fact that almost all early manuscripts of the Anulus contain Abbot Rodulf’s letter, sometimes directly preceding (in B, Munich, Bayerische Staatsbibiothek, MS CLM 12670 = siglum R and Graz, Universitätsbibliothek, MS 975 = siglum G) and sometimes directly following (in M and Vyssi Brod, Klasterni Knihovna, MS LXXVII = siglum H) Rupert’s disputation. It would have been good for this letter to have been printed--for reference and comparison--as an appendix in this edition, even though it can be consulted in Paul Tombeur’s edition of Rodulf of Saint-Trond/St Panthaleon’s Chronicle (CCCM, 257; 2013, pp. 135-6). The impeccable work on the manuscripts and the reconstruction of the textual transmission of Rupert’s Anulus, revealed in this edition, is admirable testimony to the editor’s scholarship and erudition.