By Alex J. Novikoff

Via countless numbers of released and unpublished resources, Alex J. Novikoff lines the evolution of disputation from its old origins to its broader impact within the scholastic tradition and public sphere of the excessive center a long time.

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The work, along with a letter, is addressed to a nobleman Honestus who had written to Peter requesting arguments that could be used against the Jews. ’’92 The stress that Peter places on ‘‘reasoned arguments’’ and ‘‘debate’’ provides tantalizing hints of the nature of the discussions that Jews and Christians could be expected to have had in the eleventh century. 93 Or is Peter simply livening up the dialogue by suggesting an air of veracity? It is a familiar problem, and any answer will necessarily be highly conjectural.

For the most part, these dialogues are compilations of ideas drawn together from the work of earlier scholars. De dialectica, for instance, is based on works by Cassiodorus, Boethius, Cicero, Marius Victorinus, Julius Victor, Quintilian, and Pseudo-Augustine. 73 The distinction was not entirely new, but, in composing dialogues about, among other things, the very art of disputation, Alcuin was successful in reinstating the ancient practice of debate as central to the learning of his times. Very few other dialogues are known from the ninth century.

To be sure, there are a great many treatises of the Adversus Iudaeos genre that are not dialogues, and a full examination of Christian attitudes toward Jews at any moment in time must necessarily consider the full range of these other works. Yet the popularity of the dialogue form needs to be accounted for, and it is only when viewed alongside other ancient classical traditions of dialogue and disputation that its literary, rhetorical, and cultural dimensions can be appreciated. The JewishChristian debate well illustrates that the literary form of the dialogue and the social act of disputation cannot, and should not, be separated entirely.

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