No. 26 (2023): Cromohs
The Destruction and Preservation of Hebrew Books

Censorship: Books, the Halakhah, and Jewish Continuity, A Synoptic Overview

Kenneth Stow
University of Haifa

Published 2023-12-20


  • Censorship,
  • Talmud,
  • Tranquillo Corcos,
  • Hebrew Books,
  • Italian Jews


Attacks on the Talmud were often motivated by sheer ignorance. That ignorance was not new, nor did it motivate the attacks of the thirteenth century. From late ancient times, Jews had been accused of perverting the biblical text, and how much more were rabbinic texts judged deviant. The thirteenth century attack was also two-sided. Along with those calling for burning, others called for exploiting the Talmud’s supposedly Christological proofs. This approach appeared again in the early sixteenth century, but it made no headway. Convert censors were of no help here, but were focused on conversion. At the same time, ignorance, which had not waned, was decisive, so that prohibitions were porous. Tranquillo Corcos, for one, was able to cite almost anything he wanted.