Ephraim ben Jacob of Bonn, the author of our only extant Hebrew account of the fate of Jews during the Second Crusade, has left us a related text--a collection of reports on a series of anti-Jewish actions that stretched in time from 1171 to 1196. Since narrative accounts of events penned by Jewish contemporaries and near contemporaries are both extremely valuable and relatively rare for the Middle Ages, close scrutiny of Ephraim's compilation is rewarding. Issues addressed in this study include: the curious organizational pattern of the compilation; the sources available to Ephraim and his stance toward these materials; and patterns of late twelfth-century Jewish life reflected in these narratives. At the close of the paper, the innovative nature of a compilation organized around the theme of anti-Jewish violence is noted, raising the question whether Ephraim's collection is, in and of itself, useful testimony to declining Jewish circumstances in late twelfth-century Ashkenazic Jewry.
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The Jewish Quarterly Review, 1 April 1994, Vol.84(4), pp.397-416
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