Peter Abelard, Heloise and Jewish biblical exegesis in the twelfth century

Constant J. Mews, Micha J. Perry

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper revisits the question of the influence of Jewish biblical exegesis on Christian scholars in twelfth-century France, by focusing in particular on Abelard's response to a question of Heloise in her Problemata about questions raised by 1 Samuel ii.35-6 (=1 Regum ii.35-6) concerning 'the faithful priest' prophesied as Eli's successor, the meaning of 'will walk before my anointed' and the nature of the offering his household should make. Abelard's discussion of the views of an unnamed Jewish scholar illustrates a consistent movement evident in the late eleventh and twelfth centuries for certain Christian exegetes to approach Jewish scholars to resolve problems posed by the text of the Old Testament. While the passage in 1 Samuel was traditionally interpreted in a Christocentric fashion, Heloise implicitly supports a more historical reading of the text in the question she puts to Abelard. The Jewish scholar's interpretation reported by Abelard is very close to that of Rashi's twelfth-century disciples.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3-19
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Ecclesiastical History
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2011
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • History
  • Religious studies


Dive into the research topics of 'Peter Abelard, Heloise and Jewish biblical exegesis in the twelfth century'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this