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TH E P R I N T E D TA L M U D entered

the world during a period of immense upheaval within Christendom, within Europe, and within Jewish life. Consider the sixteenth century: the desperate search by E L I S H E VA C A R L E B A C H of Iberian and German Jewish exiles for haven and resettlement, the controversy over Jewish books that raged throughout the Empire, and a messianic herald who inspired masses of German and Italian Jews to repentand we have not exhausted the rst decade. In the coming years, Martin Luther would inaugurate an era of reform that shattered the hegemony of the Catholic Church and challenged it to internal renewal. Renaissance humanists opened his- I thank Michael Terry, Dorot tory, chronology, and science to critical investigative methods that would alter the Chief Librarian, Jewish way scholars read ancient texts, laws, and customs. Rationalism and skepticism vied Division, New York Public Library, for his gracious and with mysticism and enthusiasm for the hearts and minds of Jew and non-Jew alike. expeditious assistance, parThe printing press changed the way information would be disseminated, paving ticularly for making available the way for broad literacy and upending traditional hierarchies of authority. This to me many of the works of Christian talmudists discussed essay will attempt to show how the turmoil in Jewish life and in European society below. inuenced the reception of the printed Talmud. 1. For an excellent overview The Talmud functioned in three distinct, yet interrelated spheres of Jewish life in of this process, see the colthe early modern period. It formed the basis for Jewish civil law and autonomy; it lected essays in Kehal Yisrael: ha-shilton ha-atzmai hawas the primary repository of ritual and religious law; and its mastery stood as the yehudi le-dorotav (3 vols). See highest achievement in the Jewish academic canon. Printing did not merely advance esp. vol 2: Yeme ha-benayim ve-ha-et ha-adashah haor consolidate a central place for the Talmud: it enriched and complicated it. The Talmud served as the basis for Jewish civil law and governance through the mukdemet, eds. Avraham Grossman and Yosef Kaplan medieval period. By the early modern period Jewish autonomous governing bodies (Jerusalem, 20012004). (kehillot) had forged new and elastic tools as the circumstances demanded. Bod- 2. Sima Assaf, Ha-onshin ies of permanent ordinances governing every aspect of Jewish civil life (takkanot), aar atimat ha-Talmud along with an endless number of injunctions and rules that emerged from the daily (Jerusalem, 1922), intro. 3. See e.g. David Malkiel, business of living and earning a livelihood within the non-Jewish world, were based A Separate Republic: The on talmudic principles. Over the course of centuries, these rules of self-governance Mechanics and Dynamics of developed far beyond the Talmud.1 Sima Assaf viewed these ordinances collec- Venetian Jewish Self Governtively as a monumental and creative chapter in post-talmudic Jewish life.2 Although ment, 16071624 (Jerusalem, 1991). The Venetian comthe Talmud formed the foundation of Jewish civil law, it did not exert exclusive munity in this period was inuence. Jewish communities reected or absorbed the norms and mores of the composed of Ashkenazic, Italmajority society. Vivid examples of the subtle but inexorable inuence of other ian, Spanish, and Levantine communities, each distinct systems on Jewish civil governance can be seen when several dierent uprooted and each providing a specic Jewish communities found themselves thrown together in a new locale, each with a portion of the communal leadership. dierent approach to governance.3

The Status of the Talmud in Early Modern Europe


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With the rise of mercantilism in the early modern period, needs of state demanded a strong Jewish government to mediate between state interests and the Jewish population. This led rst to a period of strength and consolidation of Jewish ruling bodies, then ultimately to erosion of Jewish autonomy and the consequent diminution of talmudic/Jewish legal inuence in Jewish communal aairs. Centralizing states intruded more readily into Jewish civil and even religious aairs. Long before legal emancipation dissolved the formal structures of Jewish autonomy, governments began to encroach upon many of the civic duties of the kehillot and encouraged adjudication in non-Jewish courts.4 The Talmud formed the basis for Jewish ritual and religious law. Seventeenthcentury Venetian rabbi Leone (Yehudah Aryeh) Modena marveled in his Maamar Magen ve-Tzina: It is truly amazing that despite the exile, dispersion, and oppression of Israel, and notwithstanding that their (rabbinic) words and strictures are more dicult to observe and do not greatly accord with rationalism, they have been disseminated and accepted among all the dispersion of Israel. . . . Perhaps one in a thousand Jews does not believe and uphold every law and every minute detail of the laws of the oral Torah.5 In the case of both civil and religious law, the Talmud was the indispensable guide to the mechanics of Jewish life, and in this place remained largely unchallenged through the early modern period. Beyond its instrumental value as the canonical source for the practice of Jewish life, the Talmud played other, related roles. Chief among these was its place as the highest scholarly achievement within Jewish intel5. Leone Modena, Maamar Magen ve-Tzina, ed. Abralectual life. Indeed, in parts of the Jewish world, new approaches to Talmud study ham Geiger (Breslau, 1856), were developing in the fteenth century. In Iberia, home of the rst printed volumes 3b. Further on Modenas of the Talmud, Isaac Canpantons (13601463) Darkhei ha-Talmud pioneered the complex relationship to Jewish tradition below. exegetical approach shitat ha-iyun, and established it rmly during the last century of Jewish life on Castilian soil.6 Two important features characterized this approach. 6. Sometimes published under the title Darkhei haThe rst was the incorporation of rules of logic into Talmud study. This is based Gemara (e.p. Constantinople, on the assumption that logic is a natural component of any wisdom, and so must 15151520; Mantua, 1593). have been employed by the talmudic sages. The initial task of the student was to 7. Daniel Boyarin, Ha-iyun establish the rules that governed a sugya before attempting to master all the concluha-sefaradi: le-farshanut ha-Talmud shel megorashe sions that derived from them. Its second characteristic was the close attention paid Sefarad (Jerusalem, 1989). to the language of the text. In the heated polemical atmosphere of fteenth-century Emphasis on parallel developSpain, application and integration of rules of logic deep within the structure of Talments within Ashkenaz and mud study imparted a sense of polemical superiority of Jewish scholarly endeavor Sepharad, p. 4, cited from N.S. Greenspan, Melekhet over the contemporaneous Christian scholasticism. The essential text of Judaism Mashevet (London, 1955), was seen as conforming to the highest standards of the discourse of logic, whereas p. 13. Christianity, suused by mystery and doctrines impervious to logic, fell short.7 At the same time new approaches toward the study of Talmud were developing in German lands. By the fteenth century a new dialectical method of analyzing talmudic material that came to be known as pilpul had
4. See the argument made by Stephanie Siegmund, From Tuscan Households to Urban Ghetto: The Construction of a Jewish Community in Florence, 15701611 (Ph.D. dissertation, The Jewish Theological Seminary, 1995) that locates the rst incursions of centralizing states into Jewish aairs on a sustained basis in the sixteenth century. Cf. the dierent account of Jonathan Israel, European Jewry in the Age of Mercantilism 15501750 (Oxford, 1989), esp. pp. 260262. Israel describes a process of decline in the general well being of Jewish communities in the eighteenth century, with their dissolution as the nal blow. Cf. Gershon Hundert, Jews in Poland-Lithuania in the Eighteenth Century: A Genealogy of Modernity (Berkeley, 2004), pp. 99118.

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found many adherents in the world of Ashkenazic yeshivot.8 Its goal was to sharpen 8. Elchanan Reiner, Transthe mental acuity of the students rather than to facilitate a clear understanding of the formations in the Polish and Ashkenazi Yeshivot during the meaning of the text within its context. The process of juxtaposing conicting ques- Sixteenth and Seventeenth tions of amoraim and their conicting sources still bears the name Nuremberger Centuries and the Dispute over Pilpul, [Hebrew] in or Regensburger, testimony to the south German origins of these techniques.9 ke-Minhag Ashkenaz u-Folin: These developments generated excitement and positioned Talmud study for a Sefer Yovel le-Khone Shmeruk new era of intellectual growth. In both cases the expulsion of Jews and the wholesale (Jerusalem, 1989), p. 11 n. 3, destruction of the communities that nurtured these innovations ruptured the ow of gathers the relevant secondary intellectual growth. Both found new soil, if at rst in a somewhat muted voice, in the literature on the nature and development of pilpul. young communities of Jewish settlement in the sixteenth century. In the Sephardic 9. Shmuel ha-Kohen Weinworld, yeshivot founded by exiles, such as R. Jacob Berabs in Safed, continued to garten, The Study Methods advocate the iyyun method. In the Ashkenazic milieu, R. Jacob Pollack transplanted of Nrnberg-Regensburg, Sinai 37 (1956), pp. 267276; the German legacy to Polish soil, where Talmud study ourished.10 As the dialectical approaches, pilpul and illuk, began to dominate the talmudic on the expulsion from these cities and the transfer of discourse in central and eastern Europe, the towering sixteenth-century thinker methods of Talmud study Maharal (R. Judah Loewe) of Prague raised his voice in protest. Maharal did not to Poland, see A. Freimann, object to Talmud study; indeed his approach to the non-legal portions of the Talmud Aus der Geschichte der Juden in Regensburg von der defended it from charges of irrationalism or irrelevance. Rather, he objected to its Mitte des 15. Jahrhunderts place in the curriculum of young students as inappropriate to their intellectual level, bis zur Vertreibung im Jahr and to the dialectical method as scanting the basic understanding of the text on the 1519, in Festschrift . . . Martin Phillipsons (Leipzig, 1916), page.11 Despite the voices of protest, Jewish scholars passionately embraced pilpul pp. 8889. within Talmud study as the highest Jewish intellectual endeavor. Its reign did not 10. Reiner, Transformaend until the circle of Elijah Gaon of Vilna (17201797) revolutionized the yeshivah tions, pp. 980, provides a world by emphasizing the text and its direct meaning. fundamental discussion of It is doubtful whether Talmud study would have become so revered in heavily the contested place of pilpul in Ashkenaz over three cenpopulated early modern Poland without the availability of the printed text with the turies, and see his remarks on commentaries of Rashi and Tosafot. Marvin Heller has noted that prior to printing, the founding father role of scribes copied Talmud manuscripts devoid of the commentaries. The arrangement of Jacob Pollack. the Talmud tractates printed by Soncino in Italy, with the commentaries on the same 11. For a selection of Mahapage as the text, not only inuenced the subsequent print history of the Talmud but rals views on education, see Assaf, Mekorot le-Toldot haalso the way it was studied, rendering it more accessible. Soncino innovated to lastinukh be-Yisrael, ed. Shmuel ing eect by placing the Mishnah text before each passage of Talmud that explicated Glick (New York-Jerusalem, it, rather than placing the entire chapter of the Mishnah at the head of the chapter 2002), 2:1722. of Talmud, as most manuscripts had done. This print model subordinated the Mish- 12. Marvin J. Heller, Printnah text to the talmudic discussion, breaking its coherence and ow for the sake ing the Talmud: A History of the Earliest Printed editions of of Talmud discourse, and possibly contributing to the neglect of Mishnah study, the Talmud (Brooklyn, 1992), particularly in Poland.12 p. 95. Sephardic circles and the disciples of the Maharal in Prague cultivated the independent study of the Mishnah without the Talmud, perhaps as a reaction to the perception of neglect. Both formed societies for the exclusive study of the Mishnah. R. Yom Tov Lipman Hellers Mishnah commentary, Tosafot Yom


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Tov, crowned the revived interest in the study of the Mishnah and made it widely accessible.13 This is not to say that the Talmud assumed a position of unchallenged supremacy in the curriculum of Jewish schools in the early modern period. Fierce debate erupted over the position of the Talmud in the ideal Jewish curriculum. Critics within the Jewish world decried the atrophy of Talmud study in some places and its hypertrophy in others. In Italy and in communities of the Sephardic exiles, study of the Talmud formed only a limited component of a varied curriculum that included Bible, Hebrew language, rhetoric and letter writing, along with mathematics and the natural sciences. Even in rabbinic circles devoted to the study of Talmud, the trend towards consolidation and codication in the form of novellae and codes led to repeated calls that scholars ought to privilege Talmud study over later sources.14

We have seen that knowledge of the Talmud, along with its later codes and glosses, was necessary in order to run a Jewish community, to judge civil cases, to determine ritual law, and to advance in academic achievement. In the era before its printing, students, scholars, rabbis, judges, and heads of yeshivot would laboriously copy (or pay a scribe to copy) individual tractates for their personal use. But was study of the Talmud the pinnacle of religious Jewish life itself? With the broad access enabled by the printing of entire sets of the Talmud, the question of the ontological status of Talmud study as the most valued activity in the hierarchy of Jewish religious activities was debated with fresh vigor. The strongest assault on Talmud as the pinnacle of religious activity came from adherents of Kabbalah. While kabbalists held it to be the esoteric inner soul of the Torah from its 13. Joseph Davis, Yom-Tov inception through the Middle Ages, the printing of the Talmud may have lent new Lipmann Heller: Portrait of a urgency to the discussion.15 Printing heightened the sense that the Talmud was in the Seventeenth-Century Rabbi (Portland, OR, 2004), pp. public domain and was available to all comers. It surely could not be the revelation 6769. of the divine mind granted exclusively to a small elite. As the seal of esotericism that 14. See the powerful letters had restricted access to kabbalistic lore began to be lifted (ironically, by printing as by R. Aaron Samuel Kaiwell as oral transmission), Kabbalah competed against Talmud study for the minds danover and by Yair ayyim Bacharach, enjoining the of ordinary Jews.16 I will cite here one early sixteenth century critique of Talmud recipients to abandon the study as an inferior and utilitarian pursuit. Its proponent, Asher Lemlein, may have recent work and concentrate been the person who galvanized masses of Jews in northern Italy/southern Germany on the classical study of the Talmud with Rashi, Tosafot, with his declarations. and the rishonim. Franz They [the masses] say that the study of Kabbalah is less important than the Kobler, A Treasury of Jewish study of Talmud, and that it [Kabbalah] does not have to be studied like a [sacred] Letters (Philadelphia, 1953), book, for only the Talmud provides beautiful words. . . . Do not be concerned to 2:560563. study like the talmudists because they are like workers, while you [kabbalists] sit rst 15. Jacob Katz, Halakhah and Kabbalah as Competing among the Kings council, with the King as he works. Lemlein delivered a compreSubjects of Study, [Hebrew] hensive critique of talmudic law as useful for practical purposes but not for religious in his Halakhah ve-Kabcommunion with the King. balah (Jerusalem, 1984), pp.
70101. 16. Moshe Idel, Kabbalah: New Perspectives (New Haven, 1988), pp. 253256.

The laws of prohibited and permitted are not hidden from cooks, the laws of torts and damages are appropriate for judges, the laws of shaatnez for tailors and sewers, the laws of agriculture to the people of the villages . . .

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laws of time and the months for the astrologers, the laws of signs of terefah to the profession of butchers and hunters, the laws of writing Torah, tellin, and mezuzot belong to the work of scribes and scriveners, laws of language belong to the poetasters, the laws of the Sanctuary for the tree cutters and metal miners, the laws of discharge, leprosy, and illness are designated for physicians, the laws of Levites and priestly benedictions to the profession of the singers and musicians, the laws of the Temple vessels to the silversmiths, laws of matzah and crackers and allah are the profession of the bakers, the laws of parokhet and the clothing of the urim ve-tumim to the weavers and embroiderers, the laws of purity and impurity are good for the cleaners and washers, those of business for the merchants, the laws of betrothal to teach matchmakers how to be clever. . . . The laws of believing in the Creator of all, for the simple pious with no intellect: but the laws of knowing that He has created all, that is the work of the righteous, the kabbalists, in clear truth. For they are with the King in His labors, they know Him and the order of His servants, they are ready to do His bidding, and the King clothes them in His magnicent raiments, and this is His holy spirit, which is not the case with all those mentioned above. One should not ask, How can I approach the King when I do not have broad knowledge of all the areas in the Torah, and the matters mentioned above?. . . Know that the sages of this generation are like the practitioners mentioned above. They want nothing more from their studies than to be able to pronounce judgment in order to earn their living and to be called akham and rabbenu, all this we can see with our own eyes. But the esoteric Torah they do not touch at all. Signicantly, Lemlein linked this message to the redemption. You [who follow this advice] will rest securely in your lot at the end of days.17 Kabbalists did not deny that the Talmud played a vital role in Jewish life. They argued that it reected only the outer carapace, the most external manifestation of the divine will. Kabbalah study, in their view, was the core, the most vital and uplifting medium for true communion with the will of God.18 Another challenge to the authority of the Talmud emanated from the rationalist critique of religion. Sephardic Jewry had absorbed the Aristotelian tradition during the Muslim period, and continued to nurture it up to and following the expulsion. Thus, the Iberian Peninsula, cradle of Talmud printing, also nurtured an intellectual system that both Jews and non-Jews wielded against the ritual and narrative portions of the Talmud. In western Europe, the converso experience fostered a strain that led to specic anti-Talmud critique. The need to dissemble and to question the Catholic faith caused some conversos to question all institutional religion. The shock of the talmudic tradition after they had been psychologically prepared to uphold only the biblical, led former crypto-Jews like Uriel dAcosta to question and denounce rabbinic authority.
17. Ephraim Kupfer, Hezyonotav shel R. Asher b"r Meir ha-mekhuneh Lemlein Reutlingen, Kobez al Yad 8/18 (1975), pp. 403404. 18. See the very similar assessment of talmudic erudition by Joseph ibn Caspi, cited by Modena in the Kol Sakhal, translated and annotated in Talya Fishman, Shaking the Pillars of Exile: Voice of a Fool, an Early Modern Jewish Critique of Rabbinic Culture (Stanford, CA, 1997). The selection concludes, p. 119: And why should not a verse or instruction [concerning] knowledge of the existence of the Creator or His great unity be equal to a small dairy spoon?


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Schriften in Frankfurt-amMain in den Jahren 1509 und 1510, Zeitschrift fr Geschichte der Juden in Deutschland, 1(1887), pp. 160176, 230248. On the ReuchlinPfeerkorn controversy see Hans-Martin Kirn, Das Bild vom Juden im Deutschland des frhen 16. Jahrhunderts dargestellt an den Schriften Johannes Pfeerkorns (Tbingen, 1989), and the collected studies in Arno Herzig and Julius H. Schoeps, eds., Reuchlin und die Juden (Sigmaringen, 1993). 22. For the text of the Opinion, see Johannes Reuchlin, Gutachten ber das Jdische Schriftum ed. Antonie Leinz-v. Dessauer (Pforzheim, 1965); English edition and translation, Peter Wortsman, Recommendation Whether to Conscate, Destroy, and Burn all Jewish Books: A Classic Treatise Against Anti-Semitism (New York, 2000).

Renaissance humanism provided Azariah de Rossi with a new set of critical tools. De Rossi set natural science, ancient gentile chroniclers, and internal inconsistencies against literary and scientic statements from the Talmud. Despite negative reaction from some quarters, de Rossi published his critical essays in a compendium, Meor Einayim (The Light of the Eyes), that provided sustenance for like-minded thinkers into modern times.19 A sixteenth century contemporary of 19. See the translation and Azariah de Rossi, German Jew Eliezer Eilburg, composed a series of fundamental edition of Joanna Weinberg, Azariah de Rossi, The Light challenges questioning every traditional Jewish source of textual authority. I might of the Eyes (New Haven and almost say . . . that the sages of the Talmud created for us a new religion and a London, 2001). For an accesdierent Torah that spins around the axis of the Torah of Moses, but they are not sible example of de Rossis method, see chapter sixteen, the same.20 pp. 296313. Thus, the authority of the Talmud in Jewish life was being subverted in many 20. Joseph Davis, The quarters. Defenders of the Talmud responded in various ways. Maharal elevated Ten Questions of Eliezer talmudic aggadah in almost all of his work, imbuing it with profound meaning for Eilburg and the Problem of understanding the destiny of the people of Israel. Sephardic writers translated clasJewish Unbelief in the 16th Century, Jewish Quarterly sical Jewish works and defended the tradition, including the Talmud, to former conReview 91 (2001), p. 311. versos who now belonged to the Jewish community. But perhaps the most signicant 21. I. Kracauer, Die development in the triumph of the Talmud was the wide availability gained by its Konscation der hebraschen printing, which opened a new chapter in Jewish cultural history.

The Talmud and the Christian World. Christian polemicists had placed
the Talmud at the center of the Jewish-Christian polemic since the twelfth century. In that context, the Talmud was vilied, and through the medieval period, tried, condemned, conscated, and burned on the pyre numerous times. This hostile posture continued into the early modern period within the Catholic Church. But new developments such as the maturation of humanist scholarship, the Protestant Reformation, and the search for new legal systems, opened avenues for more appreciative Christian uses and evaluations of the Talmud. Each of these movements altered the intellectual and religious landscape of Europeans so that the printed Talmud entered a world dierent from its manuscript predecessors. In the early-sixteenth century, a convert from Judaism named Johannes Pfeerkorn (14691522/3) nearly succeeded in his campaign to convince Emperor Maximilian I that Jewish books were subversive and contained blasphemous insults against Christians. Jewish books, including Talmud volumes, were conscated in anticipation of a trial.21 In his scholarly Opinion, Johannes Reuchlin (14551522) correctly pointed out that no contemporary Christians, and few Jews, living in German lands could claim any kind of competency in Talmud.22 He distinguished between dierent genres of Jewish literature and emphasized that many of the citations in Pfeerkorns polemical arsenal referred to pagans rather than Christians. In fact, Reuchlin argued, very few Jewish books refuted or even addressed Christianity directly. Books such as the Talmud taught Jews to observe their religion properly, and neither church nor

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state had a right to interfere in Jewish learning or praxis. Ultimately, with the help of Reuchlins Opinion and Jewish intercession, the Emperor revoked the book conscation. The Opinion became the basis for toleration of Hebrew printing presses during the long years of confessional strife in German lands. The growing competency of Christian hebraists could assure Christian rulers that it was safe to permit Hebrew printing within their territories.23 The book burning that did not take place can be contrasted with continuing Catholic suspicion and hostility toward the Talmud that culminated in the book burning of 1553. In the early modern period the Counter-Reformation Catholic Church continued to foster suspicion of the Talmud based on medieval lines of argumentation, augmented by new emphases. Polemicists contended that far from adhering to the Hebrew Bible, Jews secretly subverted it by privileging the teachings of the Talmud along with a host of superstitious rituals and customs. They dismissed Jewish law and ritual in its entirety as a failed system, misapplied and ineectual.24 Catholics charged that Jews had deliberately rendered talmudic texts abstruse and inaccessible in order to conceal them from Christian eyes; that the arcane veneer of the Talmud served to disguise a diabolical hatred for Christianity and Christians. Catholic censors of talmudic texts obsessively, although not very consistently, ferreted out references to non-Jews, most of them actually references to pagans.25 A second line of Christian polemical argumentation regarding the Talmud claimed that the vast complex of laws and customs was too burdensome for any human being to observe, proof that the way of the Law was fundamentally awed and that only Christian grace could bring salvation.26 Reuchlin did not claim to be a talmudist, although he was a competent early Christian hebraist and student of Kabbalah. Christian Talmudism stemmed from the phenomenon of Christian interest in Jewish scholarship, which blossomed in the early modern period. Only a relatively small number of Christian hebraists ever attempted to master the talmudic corpus. Even after mastering biblical Hebrew, a language barrier to Aramaic remained, along with a sense of the Talmuds vastness and impenetrability. Nevertheless, some intrepid Christian scholars ventured into the sea of the Talmud. The primary purpose of Talmud translations and other pedagogical tools written by Christians was to render the Talmud more accessible to Christians and to eliminate the need for Jewish instruction. These translations, mostly into Latin, would not have been very helpful to Jewish scholars. Some of the Christian talmudists were animated by polemical anti-Jewish motives. For Johannes Leusden, Jewish adherence to the Talmud proved that Jews were in a perpetual state of disobedience to God, having abandoned the Bible for the Talmud.27 Nevertheless, some of the works of Christian talmudists, such as their lexicons of Aramaic (Chaldean) vocabulary and grammar, established basic foundations for academic study of Talmud. For example, Johannes Buxtorf published several Talmud aids (works that engaged him throughout his lifetime), some of which were

23. Stephen G. Burnett, The Regulation of Hebrew Printing in Germany, 15551630: Confessional Politics and the Limits of Jewish Toleration, in Max Reinhart, ed. Innite Boundaries: Order, Re-Order and Disorder in Early-Modern German Culture (Kirksville, Mo, 1998), p. 348. 24. Ronald L. Grimes, Ritual Criticism: Case Studies in its Practice, Essays on its Theory (Columbia, SC, 1990), pp. 191209. 25. See most recently Amnon Raz-Krakotzkin, Censorship, Editing and the Reshaping of Jewish Identity: The Catholic Church and Hebrew Literature in the Sixteenth Century, in Allison P. Coudert and Jerey S. Shoulson, eds. Hebraica Veritas? Christian Hebraists and the Study of Judaism in Early Modern Europe (Philadelphia, 2004), pp. 125155. While I do not agree with all its conclusions, this essay provides a stimulating discussion of the eects of Christian censorship on Jewish materials. 26. See e.g. Giulio Morosini, Via della Fede (Derekh Emunah) mostrata a gli Ebrei (Rome, 1683). 27. Johannes Leusden, Professor of Hebrew at Utrecht University, followed Buxtorfs arguments in his Philologus Hebraeo-Mixtus (Utrecht, 1682). On Buxtorf, see Stephen G. Burnett, From Christian Hebraism to Jewish Studies: Johannes Buxtorf (1564 1629) and Hebrew Learning in the Seventeenth Century (Leiden, 1996); for his comment on Leusden, p. 85.


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brought to press by his son, Johannes Buxtorf the younger.28 Buxtorf s rst Talmud study-aid was a compendium of common Hebrew and Aramaic abbreviations.29 His Lexicon chaldaicum includes a section containing a brief review of every tractate within every volume, with denitions, followed by a Hebrew list of every chapter, book, and chapter number in alphabetical order, providing a handy index to all the chapter names in the Talmud.30 The nal section contains an alphabetically arranged, annotated bibliography of rabbinic literature.31 He published bibliographies of rabbinic works, concordances of Hebrew and Aramaic, and an Aramaic and Syriac grammar. Buxtorfs reference volumes provided welcome tools for serious students of Talmud. 29. De Abbreviaturis HebraiA dierent motivation for Christian interest in talmudic texts was the search cis. Liber novus & copiosus through ancient legal history to provide the underpinnings for a new relation(Basle, 1613; second ed. 1640; third ed. 1708). ship between states and legal systems.32 Bertrams De politia Iudaica provided a 30. Buxtorf, Lexicon, pp. pioneering use of the Talmud as a basis for exploring ancient Jewish politics and 217280, Operis Talmudici government.33 Petrus Cunaeus, De Republica hebraeorum, championed the ancient brevis recensio. Israelite government as a theocracy whose laws were transparent and available to 31. Buxtorf, Lexicon, pp. all.34 Constantijn LEmpereur, noted for holding a rst university chair in Jewish dis289472, Bibliotheca rabbinica. putation, translated and commented on Bava Kamma as an example of Jewish civil 32. Jonathan R. Ziskind, law,35 while Wilhelm Schickard of Tbingen addressed the laws of Hebrew kings in International Law and his Mishpat ha-Melekh: Jus regium Hebraeorum.36 Blasio Ugolinos eighteenth-cenAncient Sources, Review tury Thesaurus Antiquitatem Sacrarum can be considered an encyclopedic summa of of Politics 35(1973), pp. 537559. knowledge about ancient Jewish civilization, including a great amount of talmudic 33. Bonaventure Corneille material.37 Bertram, De politia Iudaica Some hebraists studied the Talmud for clues about early Christianity. This tam civili quam ecclesiastica impulse started in the sixteenth century with the beginnings of Christian Hebraism, (Geneva, 1574; second ed. but reached its apogee with the work of John Lightfoot, who systematically mined 1580). 34. De Republica hebraeorum the Talmud for insights into the Christian Bible.38 (Leiden, 1617; many editions In his renowned opus, De Jure Belli ac Pacis (1625), jurist and father of interand translations thereafter). national law, Hugo Grotius, cited the Talmud to support his claim that God had See Cunaeus, The Combestowed laws that were applicable to all mankind in addition to those particular monwealth of the Hebrews, introduction Lea Boralevi to the Jews. This idea became fundamental to John Seldens work on natural law, (Florence, 1996). De Jure Naturali, of 1640. Writing in the context of the struggle 35. Constantijn LEmpereur, Baba Kama to dene the relationship between religion and state in England Masekhet Nezikin. De legibus Ebraeorum forensiafter the break with the Catholic Church, Selden viewed talmudic bus (Leiden, 1637). law as a legal development rather than a theological one. Selden 36. Wilhelm Schickard, Mishpat ha-Melekh; Jus regium Hebraeorum (Leipzig, 1674). Schickard believed that the Talmuds natural evolution out of biblical laws died in 1635; his book was brought to print by could serve as a model for allowing biblical law to develop and Johann Benedict Carpzov decades later. unfold for the needs of contemporary society. In his Uxor Hebra37. Blasio Ugolino (or Ugolini), Thesaurus ica, Selden did not translate the Talmud directly, but incorporated Antiquitatem Sacrarum (Venice, 17441748), 34 volumes. it along with other sources. 38. Burnett, Christian Hebraism (n. 27 above), p. John Selden was a virtual autodidact in Jewish studies. He
28. Lexicon chaldaicum, talmudicum et rabbinicum (Basle, 1640; second ed.). This work was one of the few products of Christian Talmudism to be reprinted in the nineteenth century. The volume opens from the right side like a Hebrew book, and is so paginated through the end of the volume. 132.

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wrote an entire book on Jewish marriage without ever having attended a Jewish 39. The foregoing discussion wedding or even consulting a Jewish informant. This gap in his education is evident is based on Jonathan R. Ziskind, ed., transl. John Selden in the curious lacunae in his work.39 Selden was unusual in this respect. Despite the on Jewish Marriage Law: goal of liberating the study of Jewish texts from studying with Jews, many Christian The Uxor Hebraica (Leiden, scholars employed Jewish teachers to tutor them in Talmud.40 Frankfurt Professor 1991), pp. 530. Johann Beckmann studied for twenty-two years with Jacob Abendana; Theodore 40. Eric Bischo, Kritische Geschichte der Talmud UberDassov studied with Isaac Abendana; Johannes Wlfer claimed to have studied setzungen aller Zeiten und fteen years with a rabbi in Frth; Adam Andreas Cnollen studied Talmud three Zungen (Frankfurt-am-Main, years with a Jewish teacher in Frth; Leusden and Johannes Cocceius studied with 1899), p. 8. Jewish teachers in Amsterdam; and Surenhuis, Wlfer, Buxtorf, Wagenseil, and 41. Bischo, Kritische Geschichte, pp. 1517. others maintained one or more in house Jews who helped them with Talmud and 42. Peter Blastenbrei, Johann other studies.41 Christoph Wagenseil und Christian interest in the academic study of the Talmud continued through seine Stellung zum Judentum the early eighteenth century. Late seventeenth-century Christian hebraist, Johann (Erlangen, 2004), p. 38. Christoph Wagenseil, provides another example of a scholar who endeavored to 43. Sota: Hoc est Liber Mischnicus de Uxore Adulterii move Talmud study onto the curriculum of Christian scholars of history, theology, Suspecta una cum Libri En and law. Wagenseil was partially motivated by missionary convictions and believed Jacob Excerptis Gemarae Verthat it behooved Christians to correctly understand the people living in their midst.42 sione Latina, & commentario perpetuo (Altdorf, 1674). His rst contribution was an edition of Sotah that included selected original texts, 44. In his Belehrung der a translation, and his own commentary.43 Wagenseil did not clarify why he chose jdisch-teutschen Red-und Sotah as his rst eort, and his translation of Talmud texts for Christian scholars Schreibart (Knigsberg, 1699), remained sporadic in pace and eclectic in choice. Wagenseil next translated Negaim, pp. 180. to demonstrate that the Talmud contained interesting and important discussions of 45. Johannes Cocceius, Versi Latini Mischnae cum Excerpmedicine.44 In a letter written in 1671, Wagenseil expressed pride that apart from tis ex Gemara Tractatum SynCocceius he was the rst Christian to present the Talmud to edrin et Makkot (1629). Cocceius work was particularly useful to Christian scholars the Jews the way they used it themselves, each Mishnah porfor its side by side Latin translations of a subject that tion together with relevant parts of the Gemara.45 interested many of them, the ancient Jewish court sysWagenseil refuted Christian contentions that the Talmud tem. For more on Cocceius, see Adina M. Yoe, "Cocwas a compilation of senseless delusions and delirious inven- ceius and the Jewish Commentators," Journal of the History of Ideas (2005), pp. 383398. tions, that it was blasphemous toward Christianity, and that 46. This does not mean that Wagenseil intended to its main purpose was to keep Jews away from Christianity.46 convey a benevolent picture of Jews. The frontispiece He argued that the Talmud contained not only specic infor- he commissioned from Cornelius Nicholas Schurtz, in mation that might benet the Christian religion, but also which a debauched sotah is led through the portal by the included matters of morality, wisdom, and medical advice priest, paints Jewish morals in an unattering light. The portal was adorned with a trilingual set of inscriptions: useful for daily life. He considered the Talmud superior to in Hebrew, ; Maimonides Code, which some Christian scholars preferred in Latin, Dei Haec Porta est Mulieres Castae Ingrefor the study of Jewish law.47 He accused Catholic censors of diutor; and in Greek, OPNAI. seriously distorting the original meaning of the text, particu- 47. Johann Christoph Wagenseil, Tela Ignea Satanae (Altdorf, 1681), pp. 5478. Blastenbrei, Johann Chrislarly in Avodah Zarah. Wagenseils legitimation opened the toph Wagenseil, pp. 5557. door to further study of the Talmud, but his work is typical


p ri n t i ng t h e tal m u d : f rom bom be rg to sc hot t e nst e i n

48. See, e.g., the lament of Johann Jacob Rabe, Der talmudishe Tractat Brachoth von den Lob-Sprchen als das erste Buch in ersten Theil nach der hierosolymitan und babylonischer Gemara (Halle, 1777). In his introduction, Rabe complained that his work would have been received with much greater enthusiasm fty or one hundred years earlier.

in its scattered nature. No Christian scholar ever translated the entire Talmud, or advanced the traditional Jewish talmudic discourse. By the second half of the eighteenth century, Christian interest in the Talmud waned.48 Yet, in the aggregate, the positive interest of the hebraists paved the way for the printing and survival of the Talmud in Europe by assuring Europes rulers of its value. Christian talmudists set the foundations for the modern academic study of Talmud. The preservation and study of the Talmud by Christian scholars in any measure might be regarded as one of the small miracles of the early modern period.

Frontispiece of Johann Christoph Wagenseil's edition of Tractate Sotah (Altdorf, 1674).