1. “Impermissibly Favorable to Jews?”

David H. Price

in Johannes Reuchlin and the Campaign to Destroy Jewish Books

Published in print November 2010 | ISBN: 9780195394214
Published online May 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199894734 | DOI:
1. “Impermissibly Favorable to Jews?”

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This chapter describes how campaigns agitating for the expulsion of Jews from the Holy Romany Empire collided with the nascent Christian–Hebrew movement, creating a complex setting for the intense controversy over Jewish books. The crisis included the initial campaigns to confiscate all Jewish books (beginning by 1507) and the inquisitional trials of Johannes Reuchlin (1511–20), the scholar and jurist who dared to defend Jewish writings in a carefully argued treatise. As the prominent founder of Christian Hebrew studies, Reuchlin ignited a fierce controversy among rulers, theologians, and humanist scholars throughout Europe. Many issues in the debates and trials pertained directly to Christian–Jewish relations (Jewish legal rights, and the value of Jewish studies for Christian biblical exegesis, mysticism, and theology), while other concerns, as is clear in the stance of Desiderius Erasmus, addressed the escalating conflict between scholastic theology and Renaissance humanism. A survey of the extensive research on Reuchlin highlights the impact of the Reformation and the Holocaust on scholarship and documents the ambivalent/disparate evaluations the controversy has elicited.

Keywords: Christian Hebrew studies; Christian–Jewish relations; Jewish books; Desiderius Erasmus; Reformation; inquisition; humanism; Johannes Reuchlin; Holocaust

Chapter.  4213 words. 

Subjects: Christianity

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