Barcelona, November 2 - In the aftermath of Rabbi Moshe ben Nachman's success in his disputation with an apostate Jew before the king of Aragon, ecclesiastical figures are claiming that one of their number provided some of the debate questions to the Rabbi ahead of time, giving him an unfair advantage in the showdown.
Friar Miguel Dominguez stands accused of sneaking a copy of several disputation points to the Rabbi, also known as Nachmanides, in the confrontation with Pablo Christiani, who converted to Roman Catholicism from Judaism. Nachmanides demolished the claims of his opponent, who set out to prove not merely that Jesus was the prophesied Messiah, but that even the sages of the Talmud could be shown to have acknowledged it. In thorough fashion, the rabbi demonstrated the logical inconsistencies, distortions, and outright falsehoods inherent in Christiani's premises and arguments, to the point that King James I awarded Nachmanides a substantial monetary sum and gave an address in a Barcelona synagogue, an unprecedented move in Europe.
"There is no way the Jew should have won," explained Father José Miro, a Church representative who was present at the disputation. "Under normal circumstances these disputations have clear rules that forbid a Jew from uttering anything objectionable to the Church, which guarantees the desired outcome. But in this case, for some unknown reason the king granted the rabbi freedom of speech. That was a problem, but not an insurmountable one - my colleagues and I believe the outcome was prejudiced by Friar Miguel, who was known to have handled some of the preparation but whose absence the night before the event remains unaccounted for." Dominguez maintains his innocence, and that he had taken ill and was resting in his quarters that evening.
"It's all rather suspicious," seconded Bishop Javier Vega. "The rabbi knew exactly what points of Christian doctrine to attack, as if someone had gone through the Bible for him and marked the passages that undermine the faith. The existence of someone who gains knowledge and understanding of Scripture without Church supervision is anomalous in this society - someone must have helped him from the inside." The bishop declined to offer his assessment of whether Dominguez is the culprit, merely insisting that whoever is proved guilty face an appropriate penalty.
Anti-Jewish violence has threatened to erupt in the wake of the disputation, but the clergy was forced to call off a planned riot and burning of Talmud manuscripts when the Jews received an anonymous tip of the impending attack and spirited their copies out of harm's way.