Classics and Religious Studies


Date of this Version

June 1998


Published in Infinite Boundaries: Order, Disorder, and Reorder in Early Modern German Culture. Ed. Max Reinhart and Thomas Robisheaux. Sixteenth Century Essays and Studies, no. 40. Kirksville, MO: Sixteenth Century Journal Publishers, 1998. Pages 329-348.
Copyright © 1998 Truman State University Press. Used by permission.
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In the contentious religious and political climate of the German empire between 1555 and 1630, rulers of Lutheran, Reformed, and Catholic cities and territories all agreed that "Jewish blasphemies" were intolerable in a Christian state, yet Jewish printing came to be both legally and politically feasible during these years. This essay examines the German imperial laws that governed the book trade, the religious and political factors that rulers were obliged to weigh when considering whether to allow Jewish printing in their domains, and the policies and safeguards that they could adopt to attenuate these potential risks. In the end, Jewish printing became more acceptable because of two intellectual developments: the emergence of a broadly accepted standard for censorship of Jewish books and the professional Christian Hebraists, who could evaluate Jewish book manuscripts for blasphemous or seditious content.

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