Peter Nigri (Schwarz)

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Dominican philosopher, theologian, and Hebraist; b. Kaaden, Bohemia, 1434; d. Eger, 1483. In 1481, at the request of King Matthias Corvinus, he became rector of the University of Budapest. Peter was a champion of thomism, defending it especially against the nominalists. His chief theological work is Clypeus Thomistatum (1481); he wrote also a commentary on the Psalms and possibly on the Isagoge of Porphyry and the Categories of Aristotle. Because of his acquaintance with Oriental languages, he may be considered the chief Hebraist of the late Middle Ages. He sought to convert the Jews through instruction and persuasion, and was active in religious concourses, delivering theological sermons. The rabbis, however, were usually reluctant to engage in disputation. Noteworthy was the seven-day session at Regensburg in 1474. The substance of this event was published as Tractatus contra perfidos Judaeos de conditionibus veri Messiae, scilicet Christi vel uncti (1475). In 1477 Peter expanded this work and published it in German as Der Stern des Messiah. The Tractatus is a rare incunabulum and possibly the first book printed in Hebrew characters. Peter published also a Hebrew primer or grammar, the first produced in Europe by a Christian.

Bibliography: r. bauerreiss, Lexikon für Theologie und Kirche, ed. j. hofer and k. rahner (Freiburg 195765) 8:372. b. walde, Christliche Hebraisten Deutschlands am Ausgang des Mittelalters (Münster 1916) 70152; Die deutsch Literatur des Mittelalters, ed. w. stammler and k. langosch (Berlin-Leipzig 193355) 4:130134, 5:1045.

[j. f. hinnebusch]