Influence of Judaism on the Protestant Reformation

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Influence of Judaism on the Protestant Reformation

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Entered, according to Act of Congress, in the Clerk's office of the Southern

District of Ohio, 1867, by Messrs. BLOCH & Co.

GIft Benlam i n Tuslrotestant from the teachings of the Jewi~h sages. I 'Church. believe tllat we are not yet fully aware how It. is this purt of the author's work, con­ much we owe to the Jewillh mind, in t!legmdu- stitnting chapters 3 to 6, inclusive, In th~ al emancipation of the human intellect." original, which is now presented to' the 'Vhat the lern'ned lecturer here suys of the English reader~ the trnnslation having been influence of the Jewish mind on the devel- originally undertaken at the special opment, of the human inteIlet in general, request of the Rev. Dr. \Vise, the may, with even more propriety, be said of well-known editor of THE ISRAEI.ITE, ill the influence of the Jewish mind in bring- the columns of which it was first published. ing about that great and nwmorable event, As regards the rendering itself, the trans­ f,)rming It mo~t relllarkable epoe'.! in the lator would simply say that, while endeav­ history of Christianity and Christenrlotl1- oring to give an exact and faithful copy of the Protestant Reformution. Fpw indeed, the original, he has occasionally taken the if any, are Hwnre how much Christianity liberty to abridge th~' narrative when the is indebted to Judaism, not only for its I· original would have nppeured too prolix in birth eighteen centuri(>s ago, bnt even for an Engli~h dress, and now nnd then, also, it!'! subsequ(>nt regeneration in the ~ixteenth embodied in the text the substance of whut cenhlry. Dr. Graetz, the able and thorough I in the original is stuted in the notes. The Jewish historian, whose oral instructions latter, which ure quite numerous in the

original, giving the sourc('s and qnoting the original documents, from which the author drew his facts and data, have heen left untranslated, since to th'" geneml reader they would be of little iuterest, while to the critical reader the original will no doubt be accessible. For the con­ venience of the English reader, the trans­ lator has divided the text into twenty-four sections, and prepared a "Table of Con­ tents" according to the division. At the close will also be found a brief ?'elIlUne of l\fEMPllIS, TENN., December, 1866.

tlie entire narrativ(', as it closes rather abruptly in the original. With these brief prefatory remarks, the Translator now presents these pages to the public at large, trnsting that the incidents and events therein described will be of in­ terest both to tiw votaries of that faith whom they originally and immediately concerned. and to the votaries of tlUtt other faith, upon whom tlwy subsequently and indirectly exerted so great an influence.





SECTrOY I. ites, guarded them against that loosene~s of morals-t,o which the Romanian nations When we consider the moral and intel­ had then already degenerated. Moreover, tectual state of Germany at the beginning thp, very fact that the Germans were of the sixteenth century, we can not but slow in comprehension and clumsy in wonder that the Protestant Reformation thought, caused the.m to adhere tenaciously originated in that country rather than in to their faith and to their sense pf trutll any other Christian g'overnment. Germany and justice; Hnd thus they did not, like was then the land of m·.:trauding k~lights; other nations, ~mtf~r themselves to be t e scene of cont.inual feuds for ..he most deprived of them by the arts of sophis· t.rifiinO' atf,lirs; where every man Wets a try. In the cultivated circles of Rome despot and a slave at t.he tim3, piti­ and Haly, particularly at the Papal lessly trampling upon his inferior,;;, and Court, the dogmas of Christianity were miserably fawning upon his superiors. r.rhe derided; the political po,~er alone, re· Germans themselves were a blunt, rude sulting from the latter, was eagerly people, prone to drunkenness and notori­ grasped. In Germany, where the people 0. us for their general stUPidity.. And yet, '\ were little disposed to merriment, except from snch a land and people proceeded a when in their drinking saloons, they did great movement, that agitated Europe to - not think lightly of Christianity, but re­ its very center, changed entirely the state vered it as an .ideal which, once a living Qf political affairs, gave the death-blow to reality, was bound to be revived again. the institutions of the Middle Ages, and But these moral germs were so deeply marked the dawn of a new llistorical Pl:l- I hidden and buried in the bosom of the Ger­ riod. '.rite reformation of Uhurch and I lllan people, that, but for the aid of favor­ State-a thing which enlightened minds I aule circumstances, they would not have wre then but dreaming of-began in a been brought to light to exercise th.eir great country where it would have been least ex- historical influence. The Tallnud-though p ected.. In a government remarkable for the Germans themselves will not acknowl­ its imbecility, where even the Emperor edge it-has indirectly contributed much himgelf, though st~~led the Sovereign of the to rousing these slumbering fon,"Os. \Ve 'Vorld,comm:tnded and threatened in vain; may boldly assert, that the controversy to where only the lesser tyrants, though on_ly which the Talmud gave rise aroused the at brief intervals, comm-l.nded some re- consciousness of the Germans, and created spect-who would, in such a land, have a public opinion, without Which the Refor­ looked for a Vigorous m:tnifestation of mation, like many a similar attempt,would strength, that was to rejuvenate the nations have died at its very birth-nay, more, it of Europe? r.rruly, to the men of that age would never have been born. The rolling this seer~ed a sheer impossibility. Never-I· of an i,nsignific'mt pebble ended in a power·­ tlleless, III that people there slumbered a ful, crushing avalanche. latent power, which neecled but to be I aroused,to·eff~ct the rejuvenation of Europe. SECTIO:N II. Among the Germans there still prevailed that simplicity of life and austerity of morThat insignificant grain of sand! which uls-pedantic, indeed, and even ludicrous brought about this great commotion, was in appearanc3-which ch:tra~te.rized their an ignorant, totally degraded individual, early ancestors. Not so was It III the lead­ the verv scum ot the Israelites-Joseph ing Romanian countries of the time-in Pfe.tferkorn-a being, whose name does not Italy, France and Snain. In these! a false deserve mention in literature and history, refinement, satiated lust and moral corrup­ but whom Providence seems to have des-­ tion had already appeared. The very rude­ tined, like the buprestidans, to accomplish ness and bluntnes~ still prevailing among against his will a useful work. the Germans prevented the corrupt clergy, '.rilis Joseph Pfefferkorn, a native of Mo­ to a great extent, from contaminating them raVia, was more expert in the practice of with the poison of their own viciousness. dishonesty than in the a.cquisition ofknowl. The lower orders of the clergy in Germany, edge. At the house of his _uncle, Rabbi compared with those of other European Meir Pfefferkorn, he had hastily snatched countries, were more chaste and modest. some bits of Hebrew learning, Which' he That innate appreciation of domestic life thought he could turn to more advantage and social reunion, which characterized among ignorant Christians than among his the Germans in common with the Israel- own kinsmen. Having committed one or I






more thefts, he fled to avoid the impending' whether voluntarily or not, is notkllown­ penalty, sought refuge in the Church, and with being evil-disposed toward the Chris­ in the thirty-sixth year of his age-ab(~ut tians and with despi.~ing every thing Chris­ 1505-was baptized, together with his wife tian. A t length the A rchhishop Herrmann and children, his first name being chan~ed inquired what opinions the .Jews enter­ into Johannes (John). He also induced his! tu"ned respecting Jesns and Mary. In re­ relatives to embrace Christianity. The: spcns..l to this inquiry, the so-called bap­ baptism seems to have taken place at 00- tized Rabbi accused his former brethren of logne. Here, at nny rate, Pfefferkorn en- : the most shameful blasphemies against the joyed the special favor of the ignorant,! latter. In consequence of this, all the Jews haughty and fanatical Dominicans. They living in the region of the lower Rhine were seemed to have recognized in him a pructi- banished. cable tool, took him under their special It was from this Victor of J{arben that protection, and procnred for him the posi- Ortuin Gratius obtained all the materials tion of superintendent of the city hospital requisite for bringing c}larges against the and surveyor of salt. Jews, their Talmud, their errors and their Cologne was at tlUtt time the home of a abominations. These he published in a set of swaggering, vain-glorious set of men, book entitled, "'1'he Life and Manners of who shunned the rays of enlightenment, the Jews "-first written in Latin, 1504, and and were anxious to obscure the dawn of! translated into German. The first charge an enlightened age with the dark clouds of: preferred agllinst the Jews reads as follows: ,mperstitious ignorance. I·'oremost among '1;l1ey would not abandon their religiOll them was a certain Hoogstraten, acting as for all the treasures of the world. If even grand inquisitor-a man of violence, reck-I a thousand ducats were offered to the poor­ less in his condnct, greedily longing for the est one of thein, to induce him to renounce odor of burning heretics. He banished i his fltith, or even to stoop in order to pick from the city all who were in favor of a up something in front of a crucifix, he liberal education, and would have made an would decline the offer, preferring to re­ excellent Torquemada in Spain. Similar main in n state of indigence. Even the t-o him was a professor of DominiC'an the- most ignorant among the Jews would blogy, A1'1lOld de 'l'ur/ge/'n, who had once I rather be burned alive a tllOusand times, committed a crime in his native city, and, I than confess the name of Jesus." in consequence, would fain have cast his And now, because this people, so often origin into oblivion. Ortuin de G1'ue8 (in. decried for their greedy avarice, would not Latin, O/'tuniU8 Gratiu~.) was the third in i surrender their honest convictions for mon­ the triumvirate. He was the son of a : ey, and because this people, so generally clerbryman, de"lirous of imitating his father. : denounced as cowards. "~ould rather suffer He had tasted but little of the libl'ral arts /. the mORt excruciating pain of being burned nnd sciences; nevertheless, his friends and, alive-it was for this thaVVictor of I{arben, associates could not sufficiently praise him' or Ortnin, branded them as the worst and as a poet and master of the fine arts. most corrupt peqple on earth. The pecu­ . liar usages of the Hebrews, as well as the SECTION III. rabbinical ls that Pt~'flcrkorn a1ld his l('a(l­ in itself, and int(,lHled onl;)' to gratify the ers utterly L l1strntecl their elll1Se; llay, Hvariee of a few 1llhwreants. Others, lignin, more, they rail'ed a storm, which, in less won by the gold of the .TewR, were refl(ly than a de{,(>l1nimll, shook the ver~T foumla­ to eSpOHf:'C tl1(>ir e:lnse. 'Vith theil' assist­ tion of the Catholic Chnreh. It was jnstly allee, the Israelites callclllonstrnting" that Ptetlcrkorn WHS s(,lIIi-.Jew1f.;h Christian did 1I10re injury to an ignorant rnnn, incompetent. to judge in Christianity than all the writings of the the matteI', :InrI that his J)l'oel'cdings were .Jews. .John Hem'hlin is one of thos(' who :Ill illdin'd violation of the time-honor('cl assisted in the transition of the :;\[i(l(l1e priYileU'(ls gmnt(>d to thellJ, promiJlt'ut.. Ag('s to modern tiBIt'S, a1\(l in conseqlll'lll'e 1l1ll(mg whieh was freedom of conseienee, t r('lHlcre(l his lWlIte illustrious in tIll' annals which ml1st needR indwle the reading and of the sixteenth century. But he