The Talmud

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Dates: 1090, 1244, 1490, 1926

Region: Europe Russia and Central Asia

Subject: Religious Political/Economic/Social Opinion

Medium: Literature


Artist: Various

Confronting Bodies: Dominicans, Franciscans, Pope Clement IV, the Inquisition, Soviet Union

Dates of Action: 1190, 1244, 1490, 1926

Location: Egypt, France, Italy, Spain, Soviet Union.

Description of Artwork: The Talmud and Midrash in Judaism, commentaries and interpretive writings second in authority only to the Torah. The term 'Talmud' commonly refers to a compilation consisting of the Mishana (oral laws supplementing spiritual laws), the Gemara; and certain auxillary materials. For most scholars, however, 'Talmud' in the precise sense refers only to the materials customarily called Gemara, the commentary on Mishana.

The Incident: 1190 Egypt-Cairo: With his Guide for the Perplexed, Maimonides, the Jewish philosopher, aroused the Christian's resentment. 1244 France-Paris: Talmud burned on charges of blasphemy and immorality. The book was persecuted in various places for another 100 years. 1244 Italy-Rome: Pope Clement IV appointed a committee of censors who expunged all passages that appeared derogatory of Christianity. (Talmudic references to ancient paganism were widely misrepresented as criticism of the Church.) 1926 Soviet Union: Official directions to libraries stated "The section on religion must obtain solely anti-religious books. Religiously dogmatic books such as the Gospel, the Koran, the Talmud, etc. must be left in the large libraries, but removed from smaller ones².

Results of Incident: 1190 Egypt-Cairo: First official burning of Hebrew books by orders of Dominicans, Franciscans, and others. 1490 Spain-Salamanca: In an auto-da-fé, thousands of Hebrew books including biblical texts were burned by order of the Inquisition. 1926 Soviet Union: virtually no printing of the work since then.

Source: Banned Books 387 B.C. to 1978 A.D., by Anne Lyon Haight, and Chandler B. Grannis, R.R. Bowker Co, 1978.