In mid-twelfth-century Rome, one clerical scholar, Nicolaus Maniacutius, honed his philological skills as he endeavoured to return the text of the Psalter to the original. Maniacutius met the challenge of editing Scripture in an unusual manner as a Christian Hebraist, consulting with Jewish scholars to compare the Vulgate Book of Psalms with the Jews’ Hebrew text. In doing so, he followed the example set by his scholarly predecessor, St Jerome, centuries earlier, as well as his contemporary, Hugh of St Victor. While scholars have acknowledged that Maniacutius consulted with Jews and learned Hebrew, the identity of the one or more Jewish scholar(s) remains obscure. The Sephardic scholar Abraham ibn Ezra lived in Rome c.1140–1143, and while there wrote a commentary on the Psalms. Nicolaus also revised the Psalter and wrote of a ‘learned Spanish Jew’. This article explores the phenomenon of Christian Hebraism in mid-twelfth-century Rome through the life and work of Maniacutius, and presents evidence that supports Cornelia Linde's suggestion that Abraham ibn Ezra was the ‘learned Spanish Jew’ with whom Maniacutius worked. In addition, textual evidence supports Maniacutius's work within an informal, cross-confessional discourse community of Jewish and Christian scholars.
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