CRISPIN, GILBERT° (Gislebertus; c. 1046–1117), abbot of Westminster (England). A disciple of anselm of canterbury , Crispin dedicated to him the record of a religious discussion which he had at Westminster with a Jew from Mainz with whom he had business connections. The discussion probably took place before 1096. The name of the Jew is not mentioned. Crispin commends his profound knowledge of both Jewish and Christian literature. The discussion recorded is greatly superior to others of this kind extant, in the courtesy and high intellectual standard it displays. In no other instance is so much space given to the Jewish arguments, which are often embarrassing to Crispin. The Jewish interlocutor refers to passages in the New Testament and reproaches Christians with abandoning observance of the Law. He also objects to the cult of the saints and pictorial representations of God. If the Christians refer to Isaiah and claim to find there the announcement of the coming of the Messiah, they must also agree that he has not arrived yet because the messianic era as described by the prophet (Isa. 2:4) has in no way been inaugurated. In his letter to Anselm, Crispin claims that, despite these objections, a Jew who was present at the discussion asked to be baptized. Crispin's record was rewritten during the 12th century, but in a rancorous tone and diluting the force of the Jewish arguments. -BIBLIOGRAPHY: J. Armitage, Gilbert Crispin, Abbot of Westminster (1911); B. Blumenkranz (ed.), Gisleberti Crispini Disputatio Iudei et Christiani (1956); ON THIS EDITION, SEE: Werblowsky, in: JJS, 11 (1960), 69–77; SEE ALSO: B. Blumenkranz, Les auteurs chrétiens latins du Moyen Age (1963), 279–87. (Bernhard Blumenkranz)

Encyclopedia Judaica. 1971.

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