I recently had a look at this amazing collection in the Leo Baeck Institute's library. A very fascinating and beautiful look into the defense of Jewish ideas in the Christian world, one of the topics my project deals with. I also found it particularly notable that Pfefferkorn, the advocate of the elimination of Jewish books, was a convert from Judaism himself... this really underlines the inner conflict that conversion can cause. It's also interesting that Reuchlin, the defender of Jewish ideas, was a Christian scholar. So - people are people, and they do not always act as one might expect. 

Herz amassed this incredible collection while he was writing his book "Johannes Reuchlin's Opinion on Jewish Literature: A Landmark on the Road to Toleration," which the LBI also holds in their library.

Be sure to visit their website and look at the online archives!


This debate also reminded me of the Heine poem I posted earlier, "Disputation," about another early debate pitting Christianity against Judaism.

From the LBI's website:

“The Rare Book Collection of Frank L. Herz” focuses on the famous Renaissance controversy between the Christian Hebraist Johannes Reuchlin, who introduced the study of Hebrew to Germany, and the anti-Jewish agitator Johannes Pfefferkorn, who was trying to lobby for the destruction of all Jewish books. ...

 ...This controversy was one of the earliest public international debates about who controls access to information and had a substantial influence on the events which led to the Reformation. The core document in the collection is Reuchlin’s “Augenspiegel,” one of the earliest treatises against anti-Semitism and intolerance and an advocacy of humanism."