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Nigri (Niger), Petrus

NIGRI (Niger), PETRUS (Peter Schwarz; 1434–1483), Hebraist and polemist. Born in Bohemia, Nigri entered the Dominican Order and studied Hebrew, perfecting his knowledge in Spain, where he apparently acquired or compiled anti-Jewish polemical material subsequently exploited in his writings. On his return to Germany, he launched a conversionist campaign in several Jewish communities and ingratiated himself with the antisemitic bishop of Regensburg by arranging a week-long religious disputation there in 1474. In the following year, Nigri published his Tractatus contra perfidos Judaeos de conditionibus veri Messiae… (Esslingen, 1475), the first incunabulum to contain printed Hebrew characters, which was later consulted by Conrad *Pellicanus. It was followed by a treatise in German, Der Stern Maschiach (Esslingen, 1477), another early document of the Christian Kabbalah. Both works contained appended guides to the study of Hebrew and were venomously anti-Jewish and anti-talmudic. Their author characteristically identified the Trinity in the second word of the Hebrew Bible, bara ("created"), being said to represent the initials of Ben ("Son"), Ru'aḥ ("Spirit"), and Av ("Father"). Nigri, who also wrote a commentary on the Psalms, is said by Yom Tov Lipmann Heller (Sefer Niẓẓaḥon, 1644, p. 191) to have been a Jewish apostate.


B. Walde, Christliche Hebraisten Deutschlands am Ausgang des Mittelalters (1916), 70–152; F. Secret, Les Kabbalistes Chrétiens de la Renaissance (1964), 18; ADB, 33 (1891), 247f.; L.M. Friedman, in: HUCA, 23, 2 (1950–51), 443–46; P. Bowe, Judenmission im Mittelalter und die Paepste (1942), index.

Sources: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2007 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.