OFFICIAL, NATHAN BEN JOSEPH AND JOSEPH
OFFICIAL, NATHAN BEN JOSEPH AND JOSEPH, leading polemicists of Franco-German Jewry of the 13th century. Both were in the service of the archbishop of Sens as financial agents, and hence the name Official. Joseph, the son of Nathan, is also known as Joseph the Zealot (Joseph ha-Mekanne), because he was zealous in the defense of Judaism and compiled a book under this name. Nathan came from a long line of scholars and communal leaders, many of whom were known for their passionate and indefatigable activities in defense of Judaism. Nathan conducted frequent debates with dignitaries of the Church and also with fanatical converts to Christianity. He was an eloquent debater. Joseph calls his father "the chief spokesman in everything." Among his challengers were a cardinal, archbishops, bishops, priests, monks of various orders, and zealous and fanatical converts. The debates are fully described by his son in his Yosef ha-Mekanne. Joseph was a pupil of *Jehiel b. Joseph of Paris and was the author of the Hebrew report of the historic disputation of 1240. Joseph, like his father, was an "Official" and continued the tradition of the family as a defender of Judaism. His book Yosef ha-Mekanne is a polemical commentary on the Bible, and contains a large collection
Z. Kahn, in: REJ, 1 (1880), 222–46, 3 (1881), 1–38; Mi-Mizraḥ u-mi-Ma'arav, 4 (1899), 17–25; idem, in: Festschrift… A. Berliner (1903), Heb. pt., 80–90; E.E. Urbach, in: REJ, 100 (1935), 49–77; Joseph Official, Yosef ha-Mekanne, ed. by J. Rosenthal (1970), introd.
[Judah M. Rosenthal]
Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.