Saturday, October 28, 2017

Friedman et al., The Trial of the Talmud

MARGINALIA REVIEW OF BOOKS: The Trial of the Talmud Anti-Judaism and the Talmud in Medieval French Society (Sarah Ifft Decker).
The Trial of the Talmud: Paris, 1240, ed. John Friedman, Jean Connell Hoff, and Robert Chazan. Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies, 2017, 182 pp., $19.95
Excerpt from the review:
Gregory’s letters set into motion the series of events that have been termed “the Trial of the Talmud.” Nicholas Donin, a convert to Christianity who had received an extensive Jewish education, claimed that the Talmud was a human creation that the Jews valued over the Torah, and that it moreover contained blasphemous and anti-Christian teachings. If proved true, such accusations would justify banning the Talmud—a major blow to Jewish religious practice. Despite the efforts of Rabbi Yehiel of Paris, a scholar who acted as the chief Jewish representative, Donin proved his charges to the satisfaction of a hostile Christian jury, and copies of the Talmud were burned in 1241 or 1242.

The Trial of the Talmud: Paris, 1240 brings together in English translation the primary source texts essential to understanding this series of events.These sources include a series of Latin letters, sent by and addressed to two popes, the Latin text of the accusations brought forth against the Talmud, and Latin records of the testimony of two learned Jews, as well as the substantial Hebrew account penned by Rabbi Yehiel and a Hebrew lament on the burning of the Talmud.

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