Johannes Reuchlin and the Campaign to Destroy Jewish Books

Paperback | December 27, 2012

byDavid H. Price

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The early sixteenth century saw a major crisis in Christian-Jewish relations: the attempt to confiscate and destroy every Jewish book in Germany. This unprecedented effort to end the practice of Judaism throughout the empire was challenged by Jewish communities, and, unexpectedly, by JohannesReuchlin (1455-1522), the founder of Christian Hebrew studies. In 1510, Reuchlin wrote an extensive, impassioned, and ultimately successful defense of Jewish writings and legal rights, a stunning intervention later acknowledged by a Jewish leader as a 'miracle within a miracle.'The fury that greeted Reuchlin's defense of Judaism resulted in a protracted heresy trial that polarized Europe. The decade-long controversy promoted acceptance of humanist culture in northern Europe and, in several key settings, created an environment that was receptive to the nascent Reformationmovement. The legal and theological battles over charges that Reuchlin's positions were "impermissibly favorable to Jews," a conflict that elicited intervention on both sides from the most powerful political and intellectual leaders in Renaissance Europe, formed a new context for Christianreflection on Judaism. David H. Price offers insight into important Christian discourses on Judaism and anti-Semitism that emerged from the clash of Renaissance humanism with this potent anti-Jewish campaign, as well as an innovative analysis of Luther's virulent anti-Semitism in the context and aftermath of the ReuchlinAffair. This book is a valuable contribution to study of an important and complex development in European history: Christians acquiring accurate knowledge of Judaism and its history.

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The early sixteenth century saw a major crisis in Christian-Jewish relations: the attempt to confiscate and destroy every Jewish book in Germany. This unprecedented effort to end the practice of Judaism throughout the empire was challenged by Jewish communities, and, unexpectedly, by JohannesReuchlin (1455-1522), the founder of Christi...

After receiving a Ph.D. from Yale University, David H. Price taught at Yale and the University of Texas at Austin, and is currently Professor of Religious Studies, History, and Jewish Studies at the University of Illinois. He has written books on the Bible in English, Reformation drama, humanist poetry, and, most recently, Albrecht Du...

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:368 pages, 9.21 × 6.14 × 0.68 inPublished:December 27, 2012Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199974942

ISBN - 13:9780199974948

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Table of Contents

1. ''Impermissibly Favorable to Jews?''2. Humanist Origins3. Humanism at Court4. Discovery of Hebrew5. Johannes Pfefferkorn and the Campaign against Jews6. Who Saved the Jewish Books?7. Inquisition8. Trial at Rome and the Christian Debates9. The Luther Affair10. ''As If the First Martyr of Hebrew Letters''Bibliography

Editorial Reviews

"The reader looking for a fresh 'take' on the German Renaissance and Reformation is well advised to grab Price's deeply researched and lucidly written book: a surprising story of the first Christian Hebraist to embrace and defend Jewish religious culture. Set against the background of latemedieval anti-Semitism, he appears as a modern progressive when compared to the more famous Erasmus and Luther, who disparaged the Jews." --Steven Ozment, author of A Mighty Fortress: A New History of the German People