8. Trial at Rome and the Christian Debates

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:
8. Trial at Rome and the Christian Debates

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This chapter argues that the humanist culture at the Roman Curia under Leo X offered strong support for Johannes Reuchlin's promotion of biblical scholarship and Jewish studies. On the other hand, Inquisitor General Hoogstraeten, who appealed the Speyer ruling to Rome, mustered heavy support from universities, the church hierarchy, the French crown, and even from (future) Emperor Charles V and (future) Pope Adrian VI. Initially, Hoogstraeten's partisans focused on the Jewish issues of the Reuchlin case and, only secondarily, on defending scholastic theology against humanist attacks. As the controversy persisted, several prominent Reuchlinists published defenses of his case that were notable for their hostility to Jewish interests, in essence creating a humanist anti-Semitic discourse; some even endorsed Christian study of Hebrew literature primarily to advance anti-Jewish missions. Moreover, after the 1514 Speyer decision and a highly favorable ruling from a Roman commission (1516), Reuchlinists focused their increasingly confident propaganda on humanism and opposition to scholastic theology (as in works by Desiderius Erasmus, Neuenahr, and Pirckheimer, and in the famous Letters of Obscure Men). Despite significant victories for the Reuchlinists, the anti-Reuchlinists continued to attract powerful support and generate a significant corpus of defenses of their anti-Jewish positions (including rejection of Christian Kabbalah) and scholastic theology.

Keywords: Adrian VI; anti-Jewish missions; Desiderius Erasmus; Jacob Hoogstraeten; Christian Kabbalah; Leo X; Johannes Reuchlin; humanism; scholastic theology; Reuchlinists

Chapter.  12993 words. 

Subjects: Christianity

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