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Jacob's ShipwreckDiaspora, Translation, and Jewish-Christian Relations in Medieval England$
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Ruth Nisse

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9781501703072

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: September 2017

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9781501703072.001.0001

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The Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs in the Shadow of the Ten Lost Tribes

The Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs in the Shadow of the Ten Lost Tribes

(p.127) 5 The Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs in the Shadow of the Ten Lost Tribes
Jacob's Shipwreck

Ruth Nisse

Cornell University Press

This chapter examines Robert Grosseteste's 1242 translation of Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs from Greek to Latin. Grosseteste's translation appears at exactly the same time as another eschatological crisis was playing out: the invasion of eastern Europe by a Mongol army led by Chingiz (Genghis) Khan's descendants. According to the historian Matthew Paris, the Mongols were in fact the ten “lost tribes” of Jews, who had been locked away in Asia by Alexander the Great but were now free and being aided in their conquests by the Hebrew-speaking European Jews. The chapter considers how the medieval Christian reception and transmission of the Testaments is associatedwith shifting attitudes toward Jews not only as textual scholars but also literally as the twelve scattered tribes. It also discusses how the Testaments, for Grosseteste and Paris, offered a unique opportunity to reconstruct the role of early “Judaism” in Christian history.

Keywords:   translation, Robert Grosseteste, Europe, Matthew Paris, Mongols, lost tribes, Jews, Judaism

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