Reflections on the Jewry Oath in the Middle Ages

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The Jewry Oath (juramentum Judaeorum, Judeneid) was the judicial oath demanded from Jews involved in legal litigation when summoned to appear in a Christian court both as plaintiffs and defendants. The special formulae which were created for the Jews, who could not use the Christian formulae, usually included two parts: a ceremony and a verbal part. The ceremony could be long and elaborate, but was usually short and simple. The swearing Jew was asked to lay his right hand on a scroll of the Torah, the Pentateuch, or from the later thirteenth century, though more rarely, even on the Talmud. Sometimes more specific instructions were given, and the hand had to be laid on the page of the Ten Commandments, or even specifically on the commandment prohibiting the taking of the name of the Lord in vain (Exodus 20. 7). The verbal part included an invocation of God, a judicial declaration regarding the nature of the obligation corroborated by the oath, and a list of maledictions which would be inflicted in the case of perjury. The oath itself could be taken in a synagogue or at its gate, but usually it was conducted in the court itself on a Jewish holy book kept there specially for that purpose.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)209-220
JournalStudies in Church History
StatePublished - 1992


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