Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

The Jesuit Order as a Synagogue of Jews: Jesuits of Jewish Ancestry and Purity-of-Blood Laws in the Early Society of Jesus

Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

The Jesuit Order as a Synagogue of Jews: Jesuits of Jewish Ancestry and Purity-of-Blood Laws in the Early Society of Jesus

Article excerpt

The Jesuit Order as a Synagogue of Jews: Jesuits of Jewish Ancestry and Purity-of-Blood Laws in the Early Society of Jesus. By Robert Aleksander Maryks. [Studies in Medieval and Reformation Traditions, Vol. 146.] (Boston: Brill. 2010. Pp. xxxiv, 281. $147.00. ISBN 978-90-04-17981-3.) The Jesuit Order as a

Synagogue of Jews is a superb study of the relationship between Jesuits and New Christians-converts from Judaism and their descendants-during the three generations after the founding of the Society of Jesus in 1540. It has long been known that many New Christians joined the Society in the sixteenth century. The opposition that this influx of New Christians inspired both within and outside the Society, however, is something of which only a few specialists have been aware until recently. James W Reites and Francisco de Borja Medina have written important studies of St. Ignatius of Loyola's philosemitism and of the divisions within the Society that developed after Ignatius's death. Maryks, however, does some-thing that no one has attempted until now-he investigates the genealogical roots of dozens of sixteenth-century Spanish and Portuguese Jesuits. Among these men were several of the most notable Jesuit intellectuals of the period, including José de Acosta, Diego Laínezjuan de Mariana, Jerónimo Nadal, Juan Alfonso de Polanco, Pedro de Ribadeneira, and Francisco Suárez. Maryks links his genealogical study

to a sophisticated analysis of the various factions that developed within the Society as a result of the debate about the admission of New Christians. In addition, Maryks analyzes the strong opposition in court and clerical circles in Spain and Portugal as a whole to the admission of New Christians in the Society. The Jesuit Order as a

Synagogue of Jews provides a profound and convincing analysis-based on extensive archival work-of the conflict between theory and practice in the Society of Jesus. The Society's founding documents called for an inclusive approach to the admissions process. In practice, however, discrimination in the admission of a wide range of minorities-including not only New Christians but also Asians, Africans, Amerindians, and mestizos-was widespread. The debate about New Christians

hinged on the interpretation, by individual Jesuits, of Ignatius's intentions. …

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