The 18th World Congress of Jewish Studies

Who Were the Intended Readers of Rabbi Moses Arragel’s Bible (Alba Bible, 1433)?

When Rabbi Moses Arragel finally agreed to the request of the
Duke of Calatrava, Luis de Gúzman, to translate the Hebrew Bible
into Castilian, incorporating both ecclesiastical dogma and Jewish,
rabbinical exegesis, and to supervise the artwork and production
of the 515-page manuscript known today as the Alba Bible, was he
aware of the intended readership of this monumental and unique
work? Scholars have offered various comprehensive explanations of
the historical context and the creation of this symbolic artifact of
medieval Spanish convivencia (executed between 1422 and 1433).
This paper suggests a further explanation – that the work was in fact
intended primarily for a converso readership, based on the premise
that Arragel’s syncretistic Castilian project, which integrates pictures
(miniatures) and texts (glosses) into a Jewish-Christian theology,
was part of a new catechistic agenda aimed at the group of forced
converts and conversos, following an initial program developed by
Profayt Duran in Aragon.