A Textual and Contextual Analysis of the Hebrew Gospels translated from Catalan

Harvey J. Hames, Pere Casanellas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The first extant translation of the four Gospels into Hebrew is to be found in a late fifteenth-century manuscript kept in the Vatican Library (Vat. ebr. 100). The study of this manuscript has to date been rather haphazard and very little has been written about it. Delcor argued in 1981 that it was probably translated from Catalan and suggested that the translator was a Jew, probably writing at the end of the fifteenth-century or the start of the sixteenth-century. In this article we attempt to demonstrate that the manuscript is a copy of the original fourteenth or fifteenth century translation. It was indeed based on a Catalan translation of the Gospels, specifically, the so-called "Bíblia del segle XIV," which is to be published in the Corpus Biblicum Catalanicum. There are small but significant hints that the translator was a Jew writing for a Jewish audience, in order to provide them with knowledge of these core Christian texts (possibly to help them to undermine Christian polemicists). However, the possibility also exists that this translation was carried out by a converso for others who, in the aftermath of 1391 and the Tortosa disputation, had converted or were considering conversion, in order to inform them about their new faith.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)68-81
Number of pages14
JournalMelilah: Journal of Jewish Studies
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2015


  • CONTENT analysis
  • CONTEXTUAL analysis
  • BIBLE. Gospels
  • TRANSLATING & interpreting
  • TORTOSA Disputation, Tortosa, Spain, 1413-1414

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Religious studies


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