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Johannes Reuchlin and the Campaign to Destroy Jewish Books$
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David Price

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780195394214

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195394214.001.0001

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10. “As If the First Martyr of Hebrew Letters”

10. “As If the First Martyr of Hebrew Letters”

Chapter:
(p.223) 10. “As If the First Martyr of Hebrew Letters”
Source:
Johannes Reuchlin and the Campaign to Destroy Jewish Books
Author(s):

David H. Price (Contributor Webpage)

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195394214.003.0010

This chapter demonstrates that the 1520 papal verdict, which was handed down two years before the scholar's death, did not stymie Christian Hebrew studies or tarnish Johannes Reuchlin's reputation, as can be seen in tributes published by Erasmus and the Hebrew printer Daniel Bomberg. Drawing upon his extensive knowledge of Jewish theology and scholarship, Reuchlin laid a permanent foundation for modern Christian biblical philology with his Rudiments of Hebrew and also initiated the controversial discipline of Christian Kabbalah with his Art of the Kabbalah. Among Reuchlin's accomplishments was his contribution to stabilizing the legal status of Jews against powerful historical forces that nearly eliminated Judaism from the empire. The chapter concludes that Reuchlin developed his unprecedentedly benign views of Judaism through direct scholarly engagement with Jewish writings and anti-Jewish polemics. We can assume that he was not the only Christian of his generation who esteemed Jewish books and acquaintances, but he was the first to represent Judaism and Jews themselves with admiration, sometimes unqualified admiration, in public discourse.

Keywords:   Daniel Bomberg, Christian Hebrew studies, Erasmus, Hebrew, Hebrew philology, Judaism, Kabbalah, Johannes Reuchlin

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