Emma Abate, Jewish Scribes and Translators in the Renaissance Rome: Who Was in the Workshop of Egidio of Viterbo?

Between the beginning of the 16th century and the Sack of Rome (1527), the powerful high-ranked Churchman Egidio of Viterbo (1469-1532) operated as a Maecenas promoting the gathering, production and translation of a good deal of works of the Hebrew tradition. Not only he intended to enlarge his own Hebrew library with at the time fashionable kabbalistic texts, but he was actively engaged in learning Hebrew and in the study of the Jewish exegetical, grammatical and mystical lore. In his own perspective, both of a humanist and of a Christian kabbalist, the study of the Jewish religious literature played a central role in the cultural debate and was crucial in the ongoing discussion on the Reformation of the Church. The paper will focus on the context of Jewish scribes, masters of Hebrew and interpreters who joined Egidio’s workshop and literary circle in Rome. Some of them were engaged in the copy of manuscripts, others assisted Egidio in reading and translating Hebrew texts into vernacular Italian. Egidio himself, notwithstanding his activity as a minister of the Church, took part in the work of interpretation and ultimately translated these texts into Latin with the help of his Jewish assistants. Who were these copyists and translators? Were they members of the Jewish community of Rome or were they itinerant Jewish intellectuals? Were they professional scribes or did they come from different professions occasionally making use of their writing skills in order to improve their life conditions? Some of them are well-known scholars like Elias Levita (1469-1549), the celebrated philologist who was hosted in Rome by Egidio during more than ten years, other are anonymous Jewish teachers who are hardly identifiable in the manuscripts. The paper will delve into aspects of their role, activity and relationship with their patron, role which can be inferred through the colophons and the marginal notes of the manuscripts. It will also take into account external sources, like letters written by Egidio, concerning the commission of manuscripts and the status of the scribes involved in the redaction.

Emma Abate is Research Fellow at the Research  at the Institute on the History of Texts, CNRS – French National Center for Scientific Research, in Paris. Her research interests include Jewish magic and mysticism; manuscripts studies and textual practices. She coordinates the projects “Books within Books: Hebrew Fragments in European Libraries”.


Edoardo Angione, Thinking the Unthinkable: a Sephardic Agent between Rome and Istanbul (1605-1610)

The paper will analyze the epistolary correspondence between Gabriel Bonaventura, a Portuguese Sephardic informant active in Venice and Ferrara (1605–1610), and key figures in the Papal State. Originally an agent of Spain, Bonaventura had previously made attempts to establish a truce between the Holy Roman and the Ottoman Empires. I argue that Bonaventura managed to use his global connections to advance his political position in Italy, going as far as meeting privately with Pope Paul V Borghese (1605-1621). In early 1606, establishing a patron-client relationship with cardinal-nephew Scipione Borghese, he started to provide the Roman Secretariat of State with fresh news from the Ottoman court, obtained through his contacts in Istanbul: an especially sought-after service throughout the Venetian Interdict (1606-1607), during which communications between the papacy and Venice were officially interrupted. I will highlight a few interstices that allowed, on certain occasions, limited cooperation between the Roman curia and Bonaventura. Moreover, Bonaventura attempted at going beyond his simple role as an informant, proposing himself as a mediator for a peace treaty between the papacy, the Porte, and Spain. Quite soon, Bonaventura’s credibility declined: cardinal Scipione Borghese wanted him out of the Papal States, deeming his activities and contacts too “dangerous”. And yet, this anomalous, almost unthinkable attempt at creating an alternative, Jewish-driven diplomacy, also supported by other coeval papers in the Vatican Archives, contributes to call into question traditional narratives of Jewishness.

Edoardo Angione is PhD candidate in the Department of Human Studies at the University of Roma Tre, Italy. His research interests include communication and news in Early Modern Europe, cultural history, Mediterranean traffics on a global perspective and the relationship between Christianity and Islam.


Katherine Aron-Beller, Defining the Jew in Inquisitorial Strategy in 16th Century Italy

In 1581, Pope Gregory XIII in his bull Antiqua iudaeorum improbitas authorized and expanded inquisitorial jurisdiction to include practising Jews, conscious that many Italian rulers had decided to tolerate Jews rather than expel them because of the economic benefits that they provided. Italian ghettos – the forced enclosure of Jews – had only been erected in four states at this time: Venice (1516), Rome (1555), Florence (1571) and Siena (1571). All other states which housed Jews (including Ferrara, Genoa, Mantua, Milan, Modena and Savoy) had still not segregated them, despite Pope Paul IV’s bull of 1555, Cum nimis absurdum, which had urged them to do so. The papal move to bring Jews within inquisitorial jurisdiction became an ancillary policy, adding a new area of supervision to the Inquisition, ensuring that practising Jews would be monitored closely and incorporated within the very institutionalization of social and religious discipline that was so important to the post-Tridentine Church. But how easy was it for the Papacy to impose its jurisdiction upon Jews who were infidels when its intention had been to prosecute heretics? Was this strategy a papal compromise formulated as a result of 15th-century Inquisitorial experiences in Iberia, where Jews were converted on a large scale, sometimes by force or threats, and then had been disciplined by the inquisition? What were the types of offences for which Jews could be tried and how were they treated? Answers to these questions will help formulate a definition of professing Jews according to Inquisitorial strategies.

Katherine Aron-Beller is Lecturer at the Rothberg International School, Hebrew University of Jerusalem. She specializes on the Italian Inquisition (and its archives) and is currently focusing on the repeating accusation that practicing Jews desecrated Christian iconography.


Guido Bartolucci, Self in Translation: David de’ Pomis and the Place of the Jews in Renaissance Italy

David de’ Pomis is one of the most important figures of the Renaissance Jewish Community in Italy. In 1569, after the expulsion from the State of the Church, he moved to Venice, where he composed his works. The uniqueness of de’ Pomis’s activity lies in his ability to write in Latin, Vernacular and Hebrew. During all his life he tried to find a way to recover from the trauma of expulsion and he did it by explaining Judaism to a Christian audience through different tools: translations from Hebrew into Vernacular; discourses to Christian Authorities; a Trilingual dictionary; a Latin apology of Judaism (De Medico Hebraeo). The paper aims to present de’ Pomis’s building process by analysing two groups of texts. First of all I will present the main arguments de’ Pomis developed in the introductions to the translations and the works he wrote. Then I will take into account the main work published in Latin by de’ Pomis in 1588, De medico hebraeo (On the Jewish Physician). The tractate, which contains also a Latin translation of some Pirke Avot chapters, is not only a defence of the Jewish Physician role within the Christian society, but also, and mostly, a unique apology of Judaism. The paper will argue that the Jewish Physician by using a huge amount of Jewish sources translated into Latin, wanted to present Judaism as a religion and a tradition that could live without any problem within a Christian world, because it was perfectly translatable into the Christian main Language: Latin.

Guido Bartolucci is Lecturer of Modern History of at the Department of Political and Social Sciences, University of Calabria. His research focuses on the Early Modern Christian interest for Judaism.


Avner Ben Zaken, Amatus Lusitanus and the Making of Science in Motion

The ways in which Sephardic carriers of scientific knowledge traveled from West to East during the Renaissance has thus far been misevaluated or simply ignored.  The current paper aims at engaging the history of Early Modern Sephardic science by focusing on the career and travels of one particular Sephardic individual – Amatus Lusitanus a prominent Renaissance Marrano physician. In excavating the social contexts of his wanderings, as he traversed the continent from Salamanca, through Antwerp, to the intellectual culture of northern Italy, up to Ottoman Salonika he managed to absorb, exchange, process and transmit local knowledge in medicine and botanical medicine. He further conceptualized such local medical knowledge and experiences and published a pioneering publication on the Materia medica of Dioscorides, along with the publications of seven volumes of centuria, each of which contains a hundred medical cases he treated in the various cities he traveled. The paper will argue that his cross-cultural skills allowed him to process, conceptualize and synthesize local practical knowledge, experimenting on patients in diverse loci, and giving him the edge to make scientific achievements and to become a prominent Renaissance physician.  In his character, biography, and scientific publications, Lusitanus embodies the quintessential role of Sephardic Jews in Arabic−Hebrew−Latin intellectual exchanges and their part in stimulating the conditions that gave allowance to the rise of modern science.

Avner Ben Zaken is Professor at Ono Academic College. A historian of science, he works on scientific and intellectual exchanges between European and Muslim cultures, focusing on the significant role of Sephardic Jews in establishing such connections.


Nirit Ben-Aryeh Debby, Peaceful Coexistence or Violent Clash in the Venetian-Ottoman Encounter in Early Modernity

Much attention has been focused in recent years on the cultural connections between East and West or more specifically those between the Ottoman Empire and the Republic of Venice — Islam and Christianity. Whereas most research has emphasized the common values and close affinities between these two worlds, I present herein cases of conflict between the Venetian officials in Constantinople and the Ottoman authorities. As the Ottoman Empire advanced westward from the fourteenth to the sixteenth centuries, humanists responded on a grand scale, leaving behind a large body of fascinating yet understudied works, including Crusade orations and histories; ethnographic, historical, and religious studies of the Turks; epic poetry; and even tracts on converting the Turks to Christianity. Medieval concepts of Islam, in which Muslims were depicted as enemies of the faith, were generally informed and constrained by religious attitudes and rhetoric. Although humanist thinkers of the Renaissance were never able to progress beyond this stance, these works suggest that their understanding of secular and cultural issues was remarkably complex, and marked a watershed between medieval and modern thought. Previously much of the scholarship that explored the relations between Europe and the Ottoman Empire emphasized the differences, conflicts, and antagonism between these two civilizations. This treatment of conflict was heavily influenced by the theories of Samuel Huntington’s Clash of Civilizations and Edward Said’s Orientalism. Recent scholarship has proposed a diverse approach that posits more complex contacts between the Europeans and the Ottomans, as one finds in the works of Ottomanists such as Cemal Kafadar, Suraiya Faroqhi, and Palmira Brummett that offer varieties of coexistence between the two cultures. I suggest here that the relations between the Serenissima and the Porte were complex, alternating between periods of peace and cooperation and times of harsh confrontations. Religious factors had a major impact on promoting hostility between the two nations, and religious sentiments and vocabulary played an important role within diplomatic circles. Political and religious aspects created a complex and multilayered network of interreligious clashes between Islam and Christianity.

Nirit Ben-Aryeh Debby is a Professor in the Art History Department at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, and currently serves as the Chairperson of the Arts department. She works on devotions, preaching and visual cultures in Early Modern Italy (and Tuscany especially).


Tovi Bibring, “Would you have replaced your faith with my faith? And your religion with my religion?” Immanuel ha-Romi in the Streets of Fermo

Immanuel of Rome, one of the most emblematic figures of Renaissance Italy’s Jewry, repeatedly examines the borders of his “Jewishness” and “(secular) Italianness” in the flowery narratives that constitute his 28 “mahbarot”. These two identities are put to the test in different manners and seem to have preoccupied Immanuel, who could not completely blur the gap between them, though it seems that he wished to do so. It is this alternation between the tension and the harmony of his double identity that my paper aims to discuss, by using the fifteenth tale as a case study. Fifteen is also the number of the colorful types of people that help Immanuel meditate on the issue in the tale. In quest of an answer, he and his closest friend undertake an excursion to the city of Fermo, and while they wander around “from neighborhood to neighborhood” they interview a starving man, a porter, a poor man, a sick man, a homeless person, a prostitute, a merchant, an old woman, a cantor, a madman, some young lads, a blacksmith, a mourning man, and two different blind men. Each of these human beings is asked an existentialist question, regarding the nature of identity and religion, which challenges grounded perceptions about sameness and otherness and about possible or impossible intermingling between Jews and Christians. Each represents, through their answers, a different philosophical point of view: Some seem to have a clear notion of who they are, and to what they wish to adhere, while others are less decisive. The paper will comment and analyze the double mechanism of both erasing and emphasizing the substantial differences of ideological demarcations (Jews and Christians).

Tovi Bibring is Senior Lecturer in the Department of French Culture at Bar-Ilan University, specializing in the field of French literature. Her research focuses on Old and Middle French and Medieval Hebrew literatures and the possible interactions between them.


J. H. Yossi Chajes, The “Magnificent Parchment”: Transcending Boundaries of Text, Image, Medium, and Community in Early Modern Italy

Around 1500, an Italian scribal artist created a kabbalistic parchment rotulus of unprecedented scale and beauty. (See attached for Oxford – Bodleian Library MS Hunt. Add. D (Neubauer 1949)) Illuminated, colorful, and intricately inscribed, it was a masterpiece by any standard. Over its multiple stitched vellum folios, this “Magnificent Parchment” was an iconotextual summa: an integrated, pansophical presentation of the visual and textual Kabbalah of its time and place. At the same time, everything about it was unwieldy, even overwhelming. Its literary elements (many of them of a markedly philosophical orientation) described by Gershom Scholem in unpublished notes as “unbekannter Riesentext” (unknown gigantic text)—could hardly be read, due to their almost impenetrable dispersal over the meters-long artifact. Its images of bodies divine, angelic, demonic, and human were audacious. Its medium, the parchment roll, suggested that it was to be performed, rather than learned—like the other scrolls in Jewish life in the age of the codex. Once crafted, copies of the Magnificent Parchment were commissioned by wealthy collectors of luxury manuscripts, both Jewish and Christian, for centuries. Roughly a dozen witnesses, complete and fragmentary, are extant. The paper argue that this extraordinary artifact in fact provides a novel perspective on the rather more ordinary questions of Italian Jewish cultural mobility and entangled traditions (Jewish and Christian, philosophical and kabbalistic) of the period.

J. H. Yossi Chajes is the director of the Center for the Study of Jewish Cultures and an Associate Professor of Jewish history, both at the University of Haifa. His research interests include kabbalah, Early Modern Jewish egodocuments, women’s religiosity, the history of Jewish attitudes toward magic, and the visualization of knowledge.


Evelien Chayes, Porous Libraries and Jewishness in Early Modern Italy: Studying Letizia Nahmias’ Spectral Archives

Giulio Morosini’s famous Via della Fede (1683) left posterity an image of Letizia Nahmias (d. 1669) as his wife who refused to follow him in conversion and whose father and synagogue hereafter persecuted him ‘in the most barbaric way’ in order to obtain repudiation and claim back her dowry. Following the archival trace left by Letizia Nahmias we will, however, discover her multifaceted and complex life in early modern Venice, reaching far beyond that of Giulio Morosini, aka Samuel ben David Nahmias, and far beyond that of the Venetian Ghetto. Despite material and moral pressure, a context of exclusion and stereotyping, Letizia played an important role in Venice’s intellectual and economic life. She had business going on between Venice, Rovigo and Ancona, with connections to the Levant, and owned a book collection that witnesses an intellectual activity of considerable intensity. After showing the intra-cultural character of her religious pursuits, we will concentrate on her library and consider it through comparative analysis next to other early modern Jewish-owned libraries in Italy. Hence, we will critically address the question to what degree book-ownership reflects (contemporary or historiographical) narratives of religion, gender-roles and group identification or oppositions. Thus, through study of Letizia Nahmias’s only now perceived archival spectres (cf. Derrida-Prenowitz 1995), the paper will highlight the links between socio-economic, religious and intellectual history within early modern Italy and a background of cultural mobility and interaction.

Evelien Chayes currently holds a Postdoc-position at Radboud University Nijmegen, in Prof. A. Montoya’s ERC MEDIATE-project. She studies literature in close inter-relation with legal documents from French and Italian archives, with special interest in Jewish-Christian and Venetian-French intellectual networks, the circulation of ideas, texts, libraries studied locally and also in their Mediterranean context.


Filippo de Vivo, Communication, Circulation, Construction: Old and New Paradigms in the History of Early Modern Information and Ideas

In recent years early modern historians of intellectual and material culture have increasingly focused on the mobility of people, objects and ideas across religious, geographic and political boundaries, and on resulting cross-pollination and hybridity. They have shifted away from earlier historiographies based essentially on univocally defined national units, compact, homogeneous and essentially self-contained. This welcome new historiographical turn poses some serious challenges of method and interpretation. Does long-distance or even global circulation work in parallel or in contrast to local communication? What is the place of face-to-face communication among people of different religion and/or different linguistic and geographical origins? What is the role of minorities and is it better to speak of exchanges, encounters or contacts? And what about conflict? What sort of culture does movement construct? This lecture will give particular attention to Italy and the Mediterranean in the hope of sketching some helpful interpretive frameworks for the conference’s themes of entangled traditions and the mobility of Renaissance Jews.

Filippo de Vivo is Professor of Early Modern History in the Department of History, Classics and Archaeology at Birkbeck, University of London. His research focuses on Early Modern Italy and the Republic of Venice to explore the connections between communication and politics widely conceived. He has a strong interest for questions of historiography and methodology, and particularly for the uses of microhistory and for the connections between political, social and cultural history.


Shulamit Furstenberg-Levi, The Missing Names: Links between Jewish Intellectuals and the “Accademia Pontaniana” in Naples during the Renaissance

In her recent study titled The Accademia Pontaniana: A Model of a Humanist Network  (Brill’s Studies in Intellectual History, 2016), Shulamit Furstenberg-Levi reconstructs the humanist academy which developed around the 15th century humanist Pontano in Naples and investigate the networks of intellectuals linked to this humanist circle. Given that the humanists networks are often documented in the form of lists, one of the central sources of this study were lists of humanists found in various forms. A perusal of these lists will show that they do not include any Jewish intellectuals, as Fabrizio Lelli has pointed out in his article, in which he responds to both Brian Ogren’s and Furstenberg-Levi’s recent books (“Intellettuali ebrei e Accademia Pontaniana: alcune considerazioni alla luce di due recenti pubblicazioni”, Sefer yuhasin 5, 2017:159-169). This finding is not at all obvious if we take into consideration the presence of prominent Jewish intellectuals in Naples, during the same years in which the Accademia Pontaniana was active, such as Judah Messer Leon, Isaac Abravanel and Leone Ebreo, as well as signs of reciprocal cultural connections that have been detected in Christian and Jewish texts produced in Italy during that period. (See, for example a collection of such cases in: Hebraic Aspects of the Renaissance: Sources and Encounters, eds. I. Zinguer, A. Melamed & Z. Shalev). How should the absence of Jewish names on the lists be interpreted? Does their absence reflect an actual disconnectedness of the Jewish intellectuals from the humanist circles, or should it be interpreted as an expression of their being viewed as “others” and therefore not being included on these lists, such as in the case of the lists of names in the Bible in which women, who definitely belong on a list, are not named? The paper will focus on the circle of the Accademia Pontaniana in Naples and will investigate the links that can be found between them and Jewish intellectuals. This direction has been overlooked by scholarship. While a number of studies have been dedicated to the economic and social history of the Jews in Aragonese Naples by scholars such as David Abulafia, Ferorelli, Silvestri and Petralia, the intellectual history of the Jews in Naples of that period has been dealt with sporadically, only when dealing with individual figures, such as Isaac and Judah Abravanel and as Judah Messer Leon and his son David.

Shulamit Furstenberg-Levi tis presently Berkowitz Fellow at the School of Law, New York University. Her research interests focus on humanist academies, on converts to Catholicism during the Counter Reformation and on Italian pilgrimage itineraries.


Bruce Gordon, Teachers, Rabbis and Books: Jews in the Autobiographical and Exegetical Works of Konrad Pellikan

Konrad Pellikan (1478-1558) was among the first generation of Christian scholars in the north to embrace the study of Hebrew. A Franciscan who fell under the influence of Erasmus and Johannes Reuchlin, Pellikan produced some of the earliest grammatical works for Christians seeking to learn Hebrew. This paper will examine Pellikan’s complex relations Jewish teachers and rabbis as well as his encounter with Jewish books. I shall draw from Pellikan’s autobiographical account written towards the end of his life for his son Samuel. Pellikan was among the first writers in the Northern Renaissance to develop a position on the role of Jews and Jewish scholarship and culture in the Reformation. The paper will consider Pellikan’s exegetical work in his Proverbia Salomonis (1520) and his Commentaria bibliorum (1536) to explore his understanding of the Christian appropriation of Jewish learning and history.

Bruce Gordon is Titus Street Professor of Ecclesiastical History at Yale Divinity School. His research focuses on European religious cultures of the Late-Medieval and Early Modern periods, with a particular interest in the Reformation and its reception.


Alessandro Guetta, Yehuda Hayyim Carpi, a Forgotten Translator / Poet

Yehuda Ḥayyim Carpi of Casale Monferrato is a forgotten protagonist of the intense period of Italian translations from Hebrew, that took place in the period between 1570 and 1630. Dozens of versions of liturgical poems and of number of Psalms were copied in (at least) three manuscripts, around 1614; another one has an extraordinary poetical narration, in Italian octaves written in Hebrew characters, of the binding of Isaac. The paper will focus on this translator/author, some of his literary achievements and the cultural context in which he realized his work.

Alessandro Guetta is Professor of Jewish thought at the Institut National des Langues et Civilisations Orientales, Paris. He is an expert in the intellectual history of the Jews in Italy, in the Early Modern and Modern periods. His current research explores the phenomenon of Jews producing elegant Italian translations of Hebrew texts (Bible, poetry, philosophy) in the late Renaissance period.


Tamar Herzig, Jews, Converts, and the Visual Arts in Renaissance Italy 

The paper will focus on the lifestory of Salomone da Sessa (or Sasso), who figures in studies of Italian Jewry as one of the two greatest Jewish artists of Renaissance Italy. Known especially for the “Queen of Swords” that he engraved for Cesare Borgia and for which he was immortalized in Gabriele d’Annunzio’s 1910 novel Forse che sì, forse che no, Salomone worked the most discerning patrons of northern Italy, including Isabella d’Este. His works were deemed so impressive as to be given by Duke Ercole d’Este as gifts to the Holy Roman Emeperor Maximilian I, and by Duchess Lucrezia Borgia as a present for King François I. Having attracted widespread admiration already in the early years of his career, the self-made Jewish artist converted to Chrsitianity in 1491 and became known by the name Ercole de’ Fedeli. Charles Yriartre, Franz Landsberger and other art historians have assumed that Ercole de’ Fedeli was an opportunistic and estranged Jew, who converted mainly in the hope of improving his career opportunities—willingly substituting the Pagan past of Classical antiquity for that of his own Jewish origins. A close reading of hitherto unknown letters pertaining to the renowned artist, however, challenges this scholarly consensus. Newly uncovered documentary evidence reveals that prior to his conversion Salomone was an observant Jew, whose kosher meals at the Jewish hostelry were paid for by the Duke of Ferrara. At the height of his success as court goldsmith to Duchess Eleonora of Aragon, Salomone intervened in favor of less fortunate Jews. More importantly, my archival findings indicate that Salomone was actually pushed to convert—in order to save his life—by the Jews of Mantua, who implicated him in grave crimes. In his attempts to forge a new identity as a Christian goldsmith and engraver, Salomone/Ercole related to the Classical, Pagan origins of Renaissance culture. Nonetheless, the inventories and payment registers of the rulers in whose service he worked after his baptism indicate that he also incorporated Christian themes into the relic tabernacles, incense containers, and sacred jewelry that he created in the early sixteenth century. Disenchanted with the religion of his forefathers after having been betrayed by his fellow Jews, the goldsmith not only adopted the surname “de’ Fedeli” (one of the faithful), but also assigned his eldest daughter to a nunnery. Evaluating various sources of information about Salomone/Ercole’s artistic career, the paper proposes to rethink the contribution of Jews and converts from Judaism to the creation of Italian Renaissance culture.

Tamar Herzig is Full Professor of Early Modern European History, at Tel Aviv University and she currently serves as Director of the Morris E. Curiel Institute for European Studies. She specializes in the religious history of 15th and 16th centuries Italy (with a special focus on religious conversion) and in gender history.


Tamar Herzog, Religious and Civic Neophytes: Iberian Conversos from an Italian Perspective

This paper describes some of the juridical debates regarding the classification of converso Jews as permanent neophytes. It compares these debates, mainly taking place in Italy, to discussions in Italian city-states regarding the discrimination of newly arrived and newly integrated citizens, in order to suggest that Italy and its jurists can tell us a great deal also about the plight of Iberian Jews.

Tamar Herzog is Monroe Gutman Professor of Latin American Affairs at Harvard University, Radcliffe Alumnae Professor, and an Affiliated Faculty Member at the Harvard Law School. Her work concentrates on Early Modern European history, colonial Latin American history, imperial history, Atlantic history, and Legal history.


Eric Lawee, Jeremiah’s Blunders: Isaac Abarbanel’s Renaissance Biblical Scholarship and Its Critics

As far as biblical scholarship is concerned, “humanism” well sums up the innovative focus among Renaissance scholars on the human as opposed to the divine side of biblical texts. In Jewish tradition, no writer exemplifies this novel focus—and the daring results it could yield—more than Isaac Abarbanel, a Mediterranean homme sans frontières who composed most of his vast literary corpus in Italy after Spanish Jewry’s 1492 expulsion. The paper studies a startling manifestation of Abarbanel’s biblicist humanism found in his commentary on Jeremiah, written in Venice in 1504: the claim that Jeremiah’s oral and written expressions are routinely marred by grave flaws and errors. This critique includes the remarkable historicizing explanation that a biblical prophet’s lapses are traceable to detrimental aspects of his biography and historical setting. The paper explores critiques of this teaching issuing from Renaissance Italy, one by Jacob ben Hayyim, editor of the 1524 rabbinic Bible and eventual convert to Christianity and the other by Elijah Levita, close associate of Christian savants (e.g., Aegidio da Viterbo, Sebastian Münster, Paul Fagius). It concludes with a broadside against Abarbanel’s teaching published less than a decade ago that takes Abarbanel’s misguided application of Renaissance literary sensibilities to scripture as the key to understanding what the critic casts as a hubristic assault on a biblical prophet. In their ensemble, Abarbanel and his critics open a window on shifts in scholarship that lead some to identify Renaissance humanism as the beginning of key revolutionary developments in modern biblical scholarship simply.

Eric Lawee is Full Professor in the Department of Bible at Bar-Ilan University, where he teaches the history of Medieval and early-modern Jewish Biblical scholarship.


Fabrizio Lelli, The Hebrew Bible as the Primary Source for Jewish-Christian Intellectual Relationships in the Italian Renaissance

The philological reappraisal of the original texts of ancient Greek and Latin works brought about the major concern of Western European 15th and 16th-century scholars with the Hebrew original of the Bible, which led to a radical criticism of its translations, and especially of the Latin Vulgate. The on-going critique of authoritative sources of universal knowledge ultimately triggered an overall sense of uncertainty that affected all intellectual pursuits. The search for truth should be sought only in the Hebrew Bible that had been revealed by God on Mount Sinai. This is why, for their scholarly endeavors, Renaissance intellectuals – both Jews and non-Jews – drew inspiration from the Hebraica Veritas, the pristine truth contained in the Hebrew Scripture. The paper shall focus on some examples of encounters of Jewish and non-Jewish scientists who shared an analogous interest in the use of the Hebrew Scripture as grounding authority for their research, the all-encompassing reference book that allowed them to cope with the major speculative changes that had been caused by contemporary scientific discoveries.

Fabrizio Lelli is Full Professor of Hebrew language and literature at the University of Salento in Lecce, Italy.  His research activity focuses mainly on the mystical and philosophical literature produced by Italian Jews in the late Middle Ages and the Early Modern period. He is currently working on traces of the Jewish Apulian legacy in the Balkans and on written and oral testimonies of the Jewish refugees sheltered in post-WWII Apulian DP transit camps.


Germano Maifreda, The Neophyte as Informant: Emic/Etic Descriptions, and the Strange Case of the Abraded Tombstones in the Jewish Cemetery of Ancona (17th Century)

In his widely known essay titled “The Inquisitor as Anthropologist,” Carlo Ginzburg has explored the troubling intellectual contiguity between the behavior of Catholic tribunal officials and that of their modern cultural interpreters, such as anthropologists and historians. Both the anthropologists/historians and the inquisitors inevitably interpret the emic (inner) point of view of the defendants through an etic (outer) perspective, in order to answer to specific questions. This paper aims at taking Ginzburg’s challenging input further. It shows – through an exercise in microhistory – that the ecclesiastical courts, while investigating Jews, sometimes depended upon neophytes as informants: precisely like the anthropologist depend upon native informants to maximize the emic content of ethnography. But what sort of informant is the neophyte? Does he or she produce emic or etic descriptions concerning Jews? Can the neophytes’ descriptions become a trustworthy archive for Jewish history? Finally, the paper outlines a “neophyte paradigm” in order to criticize the historian’s intellectual position in contemporary global perspective.

Germano Maifreda is Full Professor of Economic History at the Department of Historical Studies of the University of Milan. His research has been chiefly located at the intersection between economic and social history, intellectual history of scientific knowledge, and cultural studies.


David Malkiel, Jewish-Christian Relations in Renaissance Italy: Resolving a Historiographical Debate

Cecil Roth wrote of Jewish culture in Renaissance Italy: “…there has never been any other period in history when the Jews achieved so successful a synthesis between their ancestral Hebraic culture and that of the environment.”  In the 1970s Robert Bonfil portrayed Roth’s image of the Renaissance as assimilationist, and argued that acculturation spurred the Jews to emphasize what distinguished them as Jews, rather than what they shared with their Catholic neighbors. Bonfil’s revisionist interpretation has never been challenged, and yet scholars have persisted in delineating and underlining the high degree of intimacy of Jews and Christians in the Renaissance and beyond. The problem of how both Roth’s and Bonfil’s perspectives might both be true has eluded a solution. Study of the travel experience suggests a way forward. Eric Leed writes that the travel experience stimulates both stranger and host to examine their own identity and culture as a result of their encounter with the Other. The result, he emphasizes, is a keen awareness on the part of both of what sets them apart as well as of what they share. If we apply this model to our problem, with the Jew and Christian as stranger and host (and vice versa), we may infer that it was the very intensity of Jewish-Christian social and cultural interpenetration in Renaissance Italy that heightened the Jews’ awareness of their Jewishness.  Ergo, Roth’s portrayal of an unparalleled degree of intimacy and Bonfil’s emphasis on the Jews’ sense of their uniqueness complement, rather than contradict, each other. Not only are both true, but only a combination of the two perspectives provides a complete, three-dimensional, image.

David Malkiel is Full Professor at the Department of Jewish History, Bar Ilan University. His research interests include Jewish culture in Europe and the Mediterranean basin in the Middle Ages and Early Modern era; Jewish culture in Italy in the Middle Ages and Early Modern era; Palestinian emissaries and their relations with their hosts.


Martina Mampieri, Neophytes, Slanderers, and Jewish Dogs: Imagining and Defining the Jews at the Outskirts of the Papal States (16th Century)

It is well known that “behind many of the episodes against Jews, we find (then as always) the actions of a Jew-turned-Christian neophyte,” (Bonfil, 1994) who, after converting to Christianity, made every effort to win their ex-coreligionists to the new faith. While cases of famous neophytes – like Ḥananel da Foligno in Rome, Giulio Morosini in Venice, and others – have already been brought to light by historians, many converts from small towns are still barely known. This paper will focus on the role of neophytes and, more in general slanderers, who acted against the Jews of Civitanova Marche, a small town located in the Marca, in the periphery of the Papal States. More particularly, thanks to the Hebrew Chronicle of Pope Paul IV by Benjamin Neḥemiah ben Elnathan (known also in Italian as Guglielmo di Diodato) as well as the rich archival documentation preserved in the local archives, it is possible to trace the activity of a certain Giovan Battista Buonamici (born Aharon ben Menaḥem) and his accomplices who engineered the arrest of six Jews from Civitanova and their imprisonment in the prisons of the Inquisition in Rome between July and August 1559. Starting from a reflection on the Cum nimis absurdum, the paper will investigate the role of neophytes and slanderers in the definition and perception of the Jews as well as Jewish-Christian relations up until the Jews’ expulsion from Civitanova.

Martina Mampieri is Research Fellow in Modern Jewish Studies at the Lichtenberg-Kolleg – The Göttingen Institute for Advanced Study, University of Göttingen . She specializes in cultural and intellectual history, historiography, and Jewish-Christian relations in Early Modern and Modern Italy.


Piergabriele Mancuso, Repertoires and Interactions: Music A-semanticism and Social Exchanges in Renaissance and Early-Modern Italy

One of the perhaps most significant achievements of Italian Jews in the field of artistic disciplines was the acquisition and development of a learned music repertoire, a complex process that started from the study of non-Hebrew scientific sources on music theory and history of music (e.g. Zarlino’s Histitutiones harmonicae; Marchetto da Padova’s music treatise, etc.), their translation into Hebrew, as well as, nonetheless, the creation of an ideological – theoretical framework explaining and validating the introduction of traditionally non-Jewish topics. While the study and performance of traditionally non-Jewish learned disciplines was normally justified as an act of teshuvah, recovering a part of Israel’s ancient forgotten cultural and spiritual lore – in the case of music (where intense interactions with the surrounding non-Jewish majority tunes were involved) the physiological dimension of introducing foreign voices made such legitimacy more complicated and controversial. While aniconic, non-semantic, universal and therefore, at least in theory, perfectly fitting the requirement of Jewish culture, the use non-Jewish tunes was extremely controversial, not only by Jewish traditionalists but also by Christian authorities denouncing Judeo-Christian music sharing as a form of potential heterodoxy (as in the case of the 29 March 1516 Venetian Senate’s deliberation about the ghetto, established because of recurrent Jewish-Christian “mixed music performances”). Aim of this paper is to show how music challenged contemporary dichotomies, and contributed to pierce the physical and cultural borders between Jewish and Christian contexts, creating a common language with which Jews and Christians interacted, disputed and at times cooperated, in spite of legislative limitations and physical separations.

Piergabriele Mancuso is Director of the Eugene Grant Research Program on Jewish History and Culture in Early Modern Europe at the Medici Archive Project. His research interests include Early Medieval southern Italian Judaism, Jewish astronomical and astrological tradition, Hebrew and Latin paleography, Jewish music and ethnomusicology, 17th-19th century Italian Jewry, as well as Venetian and Florentine history.


Margherita Mantovani, Hebrew–Latin Translations of Averroes’ Preface to Metaphysics Λ

This paper will focus on Averroes’ (1126—1198) preface to the twelfth book of Aristotle’s Metaphysics: Metaphysics Book Lambda (Λ). The text of the preface, whose content was conceived as an introduction to Aristotle’s onto-theology, was included in Averroes’ Long Commentary on the Metaphysics. Nonetheless, when in the first half of the thirteenth century Michael Scot translated Averroes’ Long Commentary into Latin, he omitted the text of the preface. This was only added in the editio princeps which appeared in 1473 in Padua. Fifteen years later, Elia del Medigo (ca. 1458-1493) produced in print the first Latin translation of this text, which was based upon a Hebrew version. Renaissance Hebrew-into-Latin translations by del Medigo, Paolo Ricci (ca. 1480-1541), and Jacob Mantino (ca. 1490-1549), enabled Averroes’ preface to circulate in the Latin West. The paper aims at investigating origin and dissimilarities of these translations, as well as their importance for the history of the Western reception of Averroes.

Dr Margherita Mantovani  will be a Post-Doctoral Researcher at the Institut de Recherche et d’Histoire des Textes as of January 2020, at the CNRS (Laboratory of Excellence Hastec). Her current research projects deal with the reception of Henoch and the history of the Hebrew-Latin translations in the Renaissance.


Emily Michelson, Layers of Imaginary Others in Conversionary Rome

This paper reconstructs the layers of interreligious imaginings that could populate the minds of an early modern Catholic engaged in conversionary work. It examines how Catholics used Jews – both real and imagined – to work out their positions on two more recent antagonists, Protestants and Muslims. At the same time, conversely, it examines how ideas about Protestantism and Islam became talking points for berating Roman Jews. The setting for these cross-confessional mental gymnastics is the weekly conversionary sermon to Jews. This took place in public, in front of potential Jewish converts, devout Catholic Romans, and curious tourists, throughout the early modern period. The men who preached were among Rome’s most learned and orthodox scholars, yet they had devoted their whole careers to the study of other religions. Given the high status of its practitioners, and its enduring popularity with spectators, a conversionary sermon was an authoritative statement of a normative Catholic opinion – even in its position on people of different faiths, who may or may not have been listening at the time. This paper will examine how the sermon encounter, and its profound, confused, multi-layered, and interwoven engagement with various Others, came to articulate the new Catholicism of the early modern period.

Emily Michelson is Senior Lecturer in History at the University of St Andrews. A cultural historian of Italy in the Reformation era, she has studied of the contributions of Italian preachers during religious crisis. Her work investigates how religious change affects standards of behavior for individuals and for groups, and creates tensions between external social norms and internal experience.


Martin Rothkegel, Jacobus Palaeologus from Chios (ca. 1520-1585) and the Marrano Dilemma

Hunted by the inquisition ever since the 1550s, the Greek-Italian Antitrinitarian theologian, Jacobus Palaeologus, was executed in Rome in 1585. The prolific author, most of whose works remained unprinted, spent an adventurous life between the Levant, Italy, and Eastern Europe, ever trying to persuade rulers and politicians of a project intended to reconcile religions and empires: Palaeologus proposed to reduce Christianity to a strict monotheism acceptable to Christians, Muslims, and Jews alike. According to Palaeologus, Christianity can be practiced in three equally legitimate modes, the Gentile Christian mode, the Turkish Christian mode (which is Islam), and the Jewish Christian mode. The third category comprises both the Oriental churches originating from primitive Jewish Christianity, and Jews – provided they concede to Jesus the epithet “the Anointed” just as the Muslims do (which excludes “infidel” Jews). Each Christian may change from one mode to another, and even be circumcised and practice Jewish law, without risking eternal salvation. While Palaeologus’s theology eventually happened to influence Transylvanian Unitarianism, its original context was the Levant with its frequent conversions and reconversions of Christians to and from Islam, and with the massive arrival of Marrano refugees to Salonica and Constantinople. Part of the newcomers were reluctant to completely renounce Christianity, but saw themselves compelled to convert to Judaism in order to obtain a reliable status in the Ottoman Empire. It seems that Palaeologus’s theory responded exactly to this dilemma. He must have been familiar with the precarious situation of the Portuguese conversos since his university studies in Ferrara around 1550. Reports to the Roman Inquisition on Palaeologus’s activities in Chios and Constantinople claimed that he was a protégé of influential Marrano circles in Salonica and Constantinople including the Mendes-Nasi family. However, Palaeologus’s preserved writings reveal that his knowledge about Judaism was shallow, and that he shared many of the anti-Jewish stereotypes common among Christian contemporaries.

Martin Rothkegel is Professor of Church History and tutor of Classical languages (Latin, Greek, Biblical Hebrew) at theElstal Theological Seminary . His current research interests conern religious nonconformity in Late Medieval and Early Modern Europe: Bohemian Brethren, Anabaptism, Spiritualism, Antitrinitarianism and 17th Century English radicals in particular.


Adam Shear, Books as Markers of Identity?  Text and Paratext in the Shaping of (Imagined) Community

Printed books (or more precisely, the makers of printed books– editors, printers, and publishers) tend to seek out as large an audience as possible.  In contrast to the circumstances of dissemination of manuscript texts where the scribe/copyist tends to know exactly who his audience is, the technology of print and the ensuing business arrangements forces publisher to think about audience and marketing.  Paratexts such as title pages and introduction,  enhancements to written works like commentaries and indices, and design of the book (mise-en-page) were used by editors and publishers to entice potential buyers. At the same time, these editorial interventions represented not only marketing but also the promotion of an idea of the community of readers that might form around the literary work in question.  In this paper, I will explore the way that publishers of Hebrew books (shorthand for all the people involved in printing) offered Jewish readers different conceptions and images of Jewish communities and subcommunities as well as reading communities that transcended Jewish-Christian divides. Italy in the first century and a half (a “long sixteenth century”) of printing represents and ideal site for investigating these questions—not only did printing centers in Italy dominate Hebrew printing for most of this period, the Italian printshop was a unique (nearly unique) site of Jewish-Christian interaction in cultural production.  Thus, I will ask whether there is something specifically “Italian” or in an “Italian key” about these editorial interventions. Benedict Anderson’s concept of “imagined community” looms over any discussion of the relationship between print and collective identity.  Although his concern was the development of nationalism, his observations on the notion of shared identity through an awareness of reading the same text as other readers not known personally, seem relevant to understanding processes of communal identification before nationalism.  In this paper, I try to engage with Anderson’s ideas as they relate to the efforts and activities of the publishers of printed books to project an imagined readership through their efforts.

Adam Shear is Associate Professor of Religious Studies at the University of Pittsburgh. His areas of interest include Medieval and Early Modern Jewish cultural and intellectual history; history of the Jewish book and the impact of print on Jewish culture and thought in the Early Modern period; the cultural role of Jewish philosophy in the formation of Early Modern Jewish identities; Jewish thought and intellectual culture in Early Modern Italy; the Jewish Enlightenment movement and its relation to the medieval and Early Modern Jewish past.


Michael Sherberg, Writing Renaissance Jews into History: Tiraboschi’s Storia della letteratura italiana

By contemporary standards, the title of Girolamo Tiraboschi’s Storia della letteratura italiana (1772-82) is a misnomer. Tiraboschi pens a vast cultural history that understands the notion of letteratura to include such diverse fields as politics, medicine, philosophy. Giovanni Getto, writing in an age in which the definition of literary historiography had changed substantially, saw Tiraboschi’s approach as a problem. Others might consider it a blessing, because in the absence of a nationalist telos Tiraboschi’s inclusiveness proves useful. In his account of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, for example, Tiraboschi records activities by Jews, particularly in the advancement of Hebrew. He remarks on the importance of the Soncino press, and he discusses Hebrew scholars who were either Jewish or Jews who had converted to Christianity. The paper paper with thus have a dual objective. First, it will discuss the Jewish cultural contribution as Tiraboschi presents it in his Storia. Second, it will reflect on the importance of Tiraboschi’s work in the context of Italian literary historiography. The nationalist urges of the 19th century and the narrower ambit of literary history ironically led to the erasure of Renaissance Jews from literary historiography precisely at a time when their heirs were experiencing emancipation. Tiraboschi’s open-mindedness thus reminds us of how the question of Jews in the Renaissance is of a piece with questions of Italian national identity that remain current today.

​Michael Sherberg is Full Professor of Italian at the Department of Romance Languages and Literature, Washington University in St. Louis. His areas of interest include Italian literature of the Middle Ages and Renaissance, as well as Italian prose after the Unification, particularly children’s literature.


Nicholas Terpstra, Finding Cracks in the Wall:  Exclusion, Engagement, and Position for Early Modern History

Earlier historiographies emphasized tensions and boundaries between Jews and Christians in the Renaissance and early modern period, and treated these communities in terms of isolation, antagonism, exploitation, and suffering. Recent decades have seen more interest in finding cracks in the wall, and in assessing positive intercommunal relations and influences. Reformation era historiographies have long been notably parochial, and this raises the question: does finding porosity in the walls mean different things for Jewish and non-Jewish historiography? As non-Jewish historiography embraces “porosity”, does this allow it to underestimate or overlook what those walls really meant in and for early modern Christian society? Might it exaggerate Christian toleration and minimize the cumulative effects of ongoing legal restrictions, social exclusions, and micoaggressions? Given the complicated dynamics of dominance and subordination, does porosity look the same on both sides of the wall?

Nicholas Terpstra is Full Professor of History at the University of Toronto. His research lies at the intersection of politics, religion, gender, and charity, with a focus on issues dealing with poverty, institutional structures of charity, and urban space and the senses in Renaissance Italy.


Giuseppe Veltri, Redefining  Qabbalah and Skeptical Tradition: Simone Luzzatto Reader of Dante Alighieri

Dante Alighieri is omnipresent in the works of the Venetian Rabbi and philosopher Simone Luzzatto (1582?-1663) and acts – so to speak – as a guide of the perplexed Jew in a Christian dominated world. My lecture will examine the quotations of the Florentine in the Discorso (1638) and in Socrate (1651) all around the Jewish mystical tradition and a sceptical interpretation of Dante’s verses.

Giuseppe Veltri is Full Professor of Jewish philosophy and religion at the University of Hamburg and director of the Maimonides Centre for Advanced Studies as well as director of the Academy of World Religions. His research interests focus on the religion of ancient Judaism, medieval philosophy, the culture and philosophy of the Renaissance and Early Modern Period, and the Science of Judaism.


Stefano Villani, Modes of Conversions and Acculturation Strategies in Early-Modern Italy

In early modern Italy, several non-Catholic communities—namely the Jews, Greek Orthodox communities in some specific cities, and the Waldenses in the valleys east of Turin—were guaranteed limited spaces for freedom. Alongside these communities, there were British, French Huguenot, Dutch, German Protestant foreigners who, for reasons of trade, navigation, or “tourism”, travelled or lived for some time in the peninsula. Hundreds of these non-Catholics converted to Roman Catholicism. To their number, we should also add the renegades who, having converted to Islam when taken prisoner in Muslim countries, returned to Catholicism. This paper will investigate the different modes of conversion and the different Catholic institutions involved in these processes. In the case of foreigners, “conversion” was oftentimes a step on their path towards assimilation into the culture of their new country. The different conversion modes therefore also refer to the acculturation strategies of these foreigners. Cross-cultural psychology has identified four well-defined acculturation strategies: integration, assimilation, separation, and marginalization. This sociological paradigm is useful for understanding the dynamics taking place in the early modern age.

Stefano Villani is Associate Professor of History at the University of Maryland. His early research was oriented towards the cultural and religious English history of the seventeenth century – and he has worked on the Quaker missions in the Mediterranean and published numerous articles and books in this area. More recently he has worked on the religious history of the English community in Leghorn and on the Italian translations of the Book of Common Prayer.


Ilana Wartenberg, Bilingualism in Scientific Texts Written by Jews in Renaissance Italy

The paper will present results of the new research project by Ilana Wartenberg, which started on 1 July 2019 at Tel Aviv University and deals with the phenomenon of bilingualism in mathematical and astronomical treatises written by Jews in Italy, mainly between the 14th and the 16th centuries. The core of the treatises is written in principle in Hebrew. However, vernacular scientific terms appear either within the text or in the margins. Given that the scientific Hebrew terminology coined mainly by Sephardic Jews such as Abraham bar Hiyya and Abraham Ibn Ezra (12th century), the Tibbonides (13th century) etc. became rather solid by the 14th century, together with the fact that Sephardic scholars as well as manuscripts reached Italy in significant numbers surely from the 15th century, this dependence on non-Jewish terminology seems rather surprising. Part of my research deals with understanding the reasons of this strong vernacular influence, the crossing of purely Hebrew linguistic borders.

Ilana Wartenberg specializes in Hebrew science in the Middle Ages and the Early Modern Period, mainly in mathematics, astronomy and the Jewish calendar. She currently works as a researcher in the Italia Judaica project at Tel Aviv University.


Lynn Westwater, “Stimando ciò esser concesso …ad una donna, e donna ebrea”: Sarra Copia Sulam’s Defense of Women and Jews in Early Modern Venice

Sarra Copia Sulam (1592?-1641), a Venetian writer and salonnière, rose to prominence because of her difference: she was a Jewish woman who entered a literary world dominated by Christian men. Her Christian male associates were eager to define, and malign, Copia Sulam because of her difference, which they sought on the one hand to erase by urging her to convert to Christianity and on the other to emphasize by underscoring her religious difference and criticizing her as a female intellectual. In a work entitled Manifesto (1621, the only original work published by a Jewish woman in early modern Italy), Copia Sulam responded with a proud defense of her Jewish faith and her right as a woman to engage in intellectual pursuits. But her self-defense was paradoxical, since it played to the entrenched hierarchy (Christian>Jew, Man>Woman) even as it sought to undermine it: as she strongly defended her faith, she presented a Christianized vision of Judaism, and as she masterfully parried the attacks against her as a woman, she invoked disempowering chivalric codes. Affirming her Jewish pride and insisting on Jewish difference while creating a vision of Judaism that was palatable to a Catholic audience, Copia Sulam constructed the sort of contradiction that was central to the early modern Italian Jewish experience. This complexity was compounded in Copia Sulam’s case, since her example also shows the double-bind that stood at the center of many Early modern women writers’ careers: the need to feign acceptance of, while challenging, prohibitions on female speech.

Lynn Westwater is Associate Professor of Italian at The George Washington University in Washington, D.C. She has studied, and translated, several early modern Italian women writers (most notably Ippolita Sforza and Arcangela Tarabotti).


Federico Zuliani, Jewish Thessaloniki as cité de refuge for Italian Protestants in the 16h Century

In the middle of the 16th century, as the Inquisition began the persecutions of Italian Anabaptists in the aftermath of Pietro Manelfi’s infamous self-confession, a significant number of Anabaptists fled from Italy to Thessaloniki and settled there. They even gathered as a proper church and urged their fellow believers to join them in order ‘to live freely their beliefs’ under the brighter Ottoman sun. The event is known, although, since the articles by Robert Friedmann (1948) and Henry DeWind (1955) it has seldom caught scholars’ interest. Aldo Stella, Luca Addante and Martin Rothkegel have actually touched the topic, yet much remains to be done. For instance, the sole surviving treatise by an Italian Anabaptist, the Revelatione by Giovanbattista Tabacchino, was written in Thessaloniki and spread around Italy from there. Yet, Tabacchino belonged to the fringe of the Italian Anabaptist movement that had began to lean forward Antitrinitarism. Apparently he was not the only one among the new settlers. The paper, on the one hand, will attempt to gather what we know of the local Anabaptist community and, on the other, it will investigate the reasons of these men and women to chose this very city rather than, to say, London or Geneva. The city appealed to them because Ottoman indifference towards Christian sectarians and because its thriving Jewish community, as Antitrinitarians had a strong ideal connection with Biblical Judaism (although they understood little of Rabbinic one). However, it will be argued, having Thessaloniki became, de facto, a ‘Latin’ city thanks to Spanish-speaking Jews, played a huge role as well.

Federico Zuliani is PhD candidate at the Università degli Studi di Torino. He works on Early Modern Italian-speaking Protestantism, both in Italy and abroad. His research interests include the history of Biblical exegesis and the Swiss Reformation.