The Church and the Jews

A survey of Church issues relevant to Jews, including papal attitudes and actions and the enactments of ecclesiastical councils

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The means to that end was to be the requirement that Jews wear "distinguishing clothing" Nothing was said about a "badge" and yet that was how the law was universally interpreted. Canon 69 again prohibited Jews from holding any office over Christians, and Canon 70 dealt with converts to Christianity, who must be "restrained" from observing the "old rites" of their former (Jewish) religion.

The Council of Vienne - Hebrew Chairs

The Council of Vienne (1311-1312) again had little to say about Jews, other than to raise again the issue of Jews and Christians in trials, urging that no special privileges be granted Jew that would make it difficult for Christians to testify against them. It was also this council that ordered the establishment of chairs in Hebrew in the universities of Paris, Oxford, Bologna, and Salamanca, largely as an aid to the missionary campaign of Dominicans and Franciscans…

The Council of Basel - Was it Valid?

In 1434 the Council of Basel met, and the validity of the actions of this council, never validated by the pope (Eugenius IV), has been the subject of debate. The most serious provisions affecting the Jews were the requirement, yet again, that bishops send "learned preachers" to the Jews, who must be compelled to listen to their sermons. Secondly, yet again, Christians should not be permitted to serve Jews in any capacity, or attend their weddings and other celebrations, or bathe together with them.

Still other "old issues" were the renewal of requirement that Jews wear distinguishing clothing and that they be compelled to live apart from Christians. They did not yet establish, except for a very few places, the "ghetto" of the sixteenth century but probably did encourage the increase of separate Jewish quarters in many towns of Spain.

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Norman Roth is a professor of Jewish History at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.