ABSTRACT In 1222, an anonymous Christian deacon was executed for heresy in Oxford after converting to Judaism and marrying a Jewish woman. The first known execution in England for heresy, this paper explores how devout masculine standards in Judaism had the potential to create incentives and rationales for Christian clerical conversion to Judaism at a time when the Church was showing a new determination to enforce clerical celibacy and eradicate father-son religious relationships. This paper argues that his conversion to Judaism might be understood as a reclamation of a masculine identity that had come to be forbidden by the Church. It further suggests new points of contentions between Jews and the Church during the thirteenth century in that the Church seems to have had reasons to regard Jewish masculinity itself as threatening as it offered secular clergymen something they wanted but which the Church now withheld: legitimacy for married, religious men.

issue 24 / n.2 (2023) by Rebekah Sewell