Academic journal article Church History

Johannes Reuchlin and the Campaign to Destroy Jewish Books

Academic journal article Church History

Johannes Reuchlin and the Campaign to Destroy Jewish Books

Article excerpt

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This painstakingly detailed intellectual and theological biography of Johannes Reuchlin joins recent books by Erika Rummel, Charles Zika, Stefan Rhein, and Markus Akkermann, but focuses more closely than any of those on Reuchlin's changing attitude toward Jews and, especially, toward Judaism and Jewish scholarship. Although he started out reading the classic anti-Jewish polemics of the later Middle Ages, Reuchlin came to read and appreciate Jewish religious scholarship, grammar, and exegesis in its own right, leading the author to claim that he was probably the first Christian scholar to do so (228-229). Reuchlin's high regard for such Jewish scholars as David Kimhi, Rashi, and Maimondides in particular, as well as his well-known defense of Jews' rights to own, print, and circulate religious works, form the core of Price's evidence.

This book is, among other things, a close reading of Reuchlin's writings about Judaism, and will appeal therefore to specialists in Christian-Jewish relations, advanced students of humanism, and to historians of the later Middle Ages and Reformation in general. The author uses terms appropriate to the era, such as "toleration." However, students of that topic will want to consult the most recent theoretical work by Wendy Brown (Regulating Aversion: Tolerance in the Age of Identity and Empire [Princeton, N. …

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