empire, who would now seek to redefine themselves religiously and politically in relationship to the emerging competition with Islam. The contenders without (the Muslims) had replaced, to a great extent, the contenders within (the Jews).

The trophies ofDamascus, a Greek work of anti-Jewish polemics redacted in 681, exemplifies the new locus of the relationship between Jews and Christians. The scene of the disputatio takes place in an urban context, within a public space, and is attended not only by Christians and Jews (different kinds of them), but also by Saracens, heretics and Samaritans. We have here a whole spectrum of communities, united by their common self-definition as 'religions of the book', and fighting, as it were, a hermeneutical joute courtoise. Soon, Arabic would replace Greek and Aramaic as the sole lingua franca of the East, permitting, after many centuries, the return of the Jews to a shared intellectual life and hence a renewal of Jewish dialectical theology, putting it on a par with Christian thought. Jews and Christians, now both dhimmi communities, would soon become engaged in redefining the parameters of cultural and religious life through an intensive movement of translations. A new intellectual relationship between them would then become possible. But that is another story.


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