Northwestern Events Calendar


Jewish Studies faculty/grad student colloquium with Marci Freedman

When: Wednesday, April 3, 2019
12:30 PM - 2:00 PM  

Where: Crowe Hall, 1-132, 1860 Campus Drive, Evanston, IL 60208 map it

Audience: Faculty/Staff - Student - Post Docs/Docs - Graduate Students

Contact: Nancy Gelman   847.491.2612

Group: The Crown Family Center for Jewish and Israel Studies

Co-Sponsor: Department of Spanish and Portuguese

Category: Academic


’Protecting the Faith': Censoring Benjamin of Tudela's Book of Travels"

Marci Freedman
Sava Ranisavljevic Post-Doctoral Fellow in Judeo-Spanish Studies, Northwestern University

Co-sponsored by the Department of Spanish and Portuguese  



The Spain of Charles V and his successors often appears contradictory: on the one hand, Spain was open to humanist learning, new ideas and a rational approach to knowledge. On the other hand, it was a sphere hostile to many forms of learning that were a threat to the Catholic religion. Jewish learning, in particular, whilst integral to the Christian tradition, was deemed suspicious. This presentation will offer a case study of how the Spanish Inquisition treated a Jewish text, that of Benjamin of Tudela’s Sefer Masa’ot (Book of Travels). A twelfth century travel narrative by a Spanish Jew, the text was first translated into Latin by the famous theologian and humanist Benito Arias Montano in 1575. A seemingly innocuous text, the Book of Travels - or the Itinerarium in its Latin reincarnation - was first prohibited in 1583 but was allowed to circulate in expurgated form from 1632. This presentation will discuss what the Inquisitors sought to erase and why. Ultimately it explores the transmission and reception of Jewish knowledge in early Modern Spain and how the Spanish Inquisition sought to balance censure with dissemination.

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