CHAZAN, ROBERT (1936– ), leading historian of the Jewish Middle Ages, focusing especially on Jewish-Christian relations and disputations. Chazan received his B.A. from Columbia College (1958), rabbinical ordination from the Jewish Theological Seminary (1962), and his Ph.D. from Columbia University (1967). He taught at the Jewish Theological Seminary (1962–67); Ohio State University (1967–80), where he also served as director of the Melton Center for Jewish Studies; Queens College (1981–87), where he served as director of the Center for Jewish Studies; and from 1987 has served as Scheuer Professor of Jewish Studies at New York University.
Beyond his teaching, Chazan has been very active in the American Jewish academic scene. He was the president of the Association for Jewish Studies (1988–91) and served as the editor of the AJS Review (1983–88). He was a member of the executive committee of the American Academy for Jewish Research and served as its president. In addition he was chairman of the Academic Advisory Board of the National Foundation for Jewish Culture and provided services to the Memorial Foundation for Jewish Culture and the Wexner Foundation.
He is the author of nine books: Medieval Jewry in Northern France (1974); Church, State, and Jew in the Middle Ages (1980); European Jewry and the First Crusade (1987); Daggers of Faith: Thirteenth-Century Christian Missionizing and Jewish Response (1989); Barcelona and Beyond: The Disputation of 1263 and Its Aftermath (1992); In the Year 1096: The Jews and the First Crusade (1996); Medieval Stereotypes and Modern Antisemitism (1997); God, Humanity, and History: The Hebrew First-Crusade Narratives (2000); and Fashioning Jewish Identity in Medieval Western Christendom (2004). He has authored dozens of articles and edited three volumes as well.
Chazan's work is characterized by a nuanced perspective on Jewish-Christian relations that were not by any means always characterized by hostility, and in which numerous factors – political, economic, religio-cultural – are seen as having contributed to the outbreak of hostilities between Jews and Christians when they did occur. Chazan is also deeply sensitive to the impact of the Crusades on the political, economic, and religious worldviews of Jews in the German Rhineland. He presents Jews not only as victims but also as people actively confronting the core issues of the day in a manner that mirrors the efforts of the surrounding Christian majority.