Ihnat, Law, Liturgy and the Jews in Visigothic Iberia

Law, Liturgy and the Jews in Visigothic Iberia

Kati Ihnat (University of Bristol)

Did Jews have to go to Church in Visigothic Iberia? While it seems an odd question, there is in fact enough legislation emerging from seventh- and eighth-century Iberia to suggest that the attendance of either Jews or recently baptised Jews at Christian services was of concern to episcopal and royal authorities. This paper will explore the complexities of the question: when is a Jew in the legal sources really a Jew and when not? What services would Jews/baptised Jews have been expected to attend and what would they have been exposed to there? As an example, the unusual and lengthy feast of the Virgin Mary was one of the feast days stipulated in the legal sources as requiring obligatory church attendance for Christians and ‘Jews’ alike. Its office contains considerable polemical anti-Jewish material, which suggests the liturgy was envisioned as a means of communicating with or about Jews. Using the Marian liturgy as a case study, this paper will seek to understand Visigothic attempts to make liturgy the law as part of a more general ideological drive for religious and cultural unity.