6. Who Saved the Jewish Books?

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:
6. Who Saved the Jewish Books?

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This chapter explains the complex legal maneuvers undertaken to oppose and support the imperial mandates authorizing confiscation. It offers a new reconstruction and interpretation of the actual campaign against Jewish books. While the confiscations were being conducted in the Rhineland with the support of the Archbishop of Mainz, the University of Mainz, and the University of Cologne, the city of Frankfurt and its Jewish community were nonetheless able to negotiate a stay of execution for the mandate. As this occurred, the office of the Papal Inquisition for the province of Teutonia, under Jacob Hoogstraeten, was assuming effective leadership of the campaign and taking steps to resume the empire-wide confiscation. This was the context of Johannes Reuchlin's intervention and the reason the inquisition immediately turned its sights on him and his arguments. The chapter analyzes the evolution of Emperor Maximilian's Jewish policy (including his support of expulsions) and the phenomenon of divided authority over Jewish communities in the empire. It argues that Reuchlin's defense was a conscientious effort to strengthen the eroding legal status of Jewry in the empire. His pamphlet also offered an unprecedented acknowledgment of the theological significance and integrity of the Jewish tradition (including defense of the Talmud).

Keywords: University of Cologne; confiscation; expulsion of Jews; Jacob Hoogstraeten; Papal Inquisition; Frankfurt; Jewish books; Maximilian I; Johannes Reuchlin; Talmud

Chapter.  10407 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Christianity

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