Bodo-Eleazar

(1st century AD)
   Spanish apostate. A deacon at the court of Louis the Pious and the Emperor’s own confessor, Bodo struck the deepest alarm in the heart of the Carolingian church by his conversion to Judaism. Taking the name of Eleazar, he was circumcised in 839 and grew his beard, and further to mark his break with his former faith and adhesion to his new community, he married a young Jewish woman in Saragossa. Eager to demonstrate his total acceptance of his new status, he wore the distinctive belt which Islamic law prescribed for the Jews.
   Most of what we know of Bodo-Eleazar comes from his exchange of correspondence with Paolo Alvaro, a scholarly Christian layman of Cordova and perhaps a convert from Judaism. Using his special knowledge of Christian anti- Jewish polemics, Eleazar was well able to attack his former faith at its very foundations, proclaiming that he had been converted from ‘idolatry to faith in the One God.’ He was particularly scornful of the diversity of beliefs, practices and rites prevailing within Christianity in contrast to the unity of belief and practice he found in Judaism. He had no scruples about denouncing the profanity and worldly greed of the Catholic clergy.
   Bodo-Eleazar was last heard of in 847 when the Christians of Moorish Spain sent a petition to Charles the Bald of France and to the bishops and Christian dignitaries of the Empire, begging them to recall the ‘apostate’ and relieve the pressure caused by his presence among them.

Who’s Who in Jewish History after the period of the Old Testament. . 2012.

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